Authorities announced the indictment Wednesday, in the largest criminal case ever in the history of US medicine.
The co-founders, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at a Massachusetts facility are accused of using expired materials and failing to maintain standards for cleanliness at the now-closed New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, which is blamed for tainted steroids that triggered the outbreak.
According to the indictment, mold and bacteria were in the air and workers’ gloves. Pharmacists are accused of failing to verify the purity of drugs before sending them to hospitals and clinics.
The most serious charges in the federal racketeering indictment were brought against Barry Cadden, one of the pharmacy’s co-founders, and Glenn Adam Chin, a supervisory pharmacist, who were accused of causing the deaths of 25 patients in seven states with "wanton and willful disregard" of the risks, according to AP.
The other defendants were charged with crimes ranging from fraud to sale of adulterated drugs.
US Attorney General Carmen Ortiz said the NECC failed to match even basic health norms, and its employees knew it.
"Production and profit were prioritized over safety," she said.
More than 750 people in 20 states fell ill, with about half of them having a rare fungal form of meningitis, after getting steroid injections. The incident left 64 people dead.
Congress responded with enhancement of federal oversight over so-called compounding pharmacies, like NECC.