Attorney General wants grand jury to look into meningitis outbreak

5:08 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

LANSING (LANSING STATE JOURNAL) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants to empanel a grand jury to investigate the recent meningitis outbreak -- allegedly caused by a contaminated steroid -- that has been blamed for 258 cases of meningitis and 14 deaths in the state.

"Our state has been experiencing an awful human tragedy that is killing our neighbors and causing unrelenting pain," Schuette said.

He has asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to approve the appointment of a multi-county grand jury to look into the case in which the New England Compounding Center, a Massachusetts-based company linked to the outbreak, distributed the steroid to medical facilities in Washtenaw, Macomb, Genesee and Grand Traverse counties.

If the grand jury is approved, a circuit judge in one of the four counties will be appointed to oversee the grand jury and 13-17 people from the four counties will be empaneled.

Schuette said he decided to go the grand jury route because the grand jury have the ability to compel witnesses from the four facilities and the Massachusetts company to testify. Criminal charges could be selling an adulterated drug and conspiracy, according to the complaint filed with the Court of Appeals, the punishment for the crimes is a 5- to 15-year felony.

As of March 18, 258 people had been infected as a result of the contaminated steroid and 14 people have died, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. The first death attributed to the steroid, a 78-year-old Washtenaw County woman, was recorded on Oct. 6. The most recent death was an 80-year-old man from Grand Traverse County, whose meningitis-related death was confirmed March 11.

"These statistics are brutal, but they're not just numbers, they're Michiganians," Schuette said.

Lansing State Journal

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