Federal criminal investigators search Framingham pharmacy tied to meningitis outbreak

Framingham, MA - 10/3016/12 - Federal agents at NECC Framingham Raid - (Barry Chin/Globe Staff), section: Metro, reporter: unknown, slug:
Criminal investigators from the FDA conferred outside offices of New England Compounding Center in Framingham.
Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FRAMINGHAM—The probe of the Framingham compounding pharmacy at the center of a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak has expanded to include criminal investigators.

Agents from the US Food and Drug Administration were at the offices of New England Compounding Center in Framingham Tuesday and worked into the evening. They wore blue jackets bearing the yellow letters “FDA OCI”—FDA Office of Criminal Investigations—as they went in and out of the brick office building on Waverly Street.

A number of unmarked government cars were parked in the area.

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FDA Spokesman Steven Immergut said the agents were there as part of the agency’s ongoing investigation into the outbreak, which is believed to be caused by contaminated steroids made by New England Compounding. He would not comment on whether the agency is conducting a criminal investigation.

US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging her office’s involvement in the probe.

“I can confirm that this office and our law enforcement partners are investigating allegations concerning the New England Compounding Center. I think that it is entirely premature to suggest what the results of the investigation will be,” she said in the statement.

Health officials say they have traced the outbreak to a possibly contaminated injectable steroid used for back and joint pain. On Monday, the FDA said two other New England Compounding products—another steroid and a medication used in heart surgery—may also be involved in the outbreak.

Fifteen people have died and 233 cases have been reported in 15 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.