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Mass. DPH: Not Clear Why Board Backed Off Penalty

By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — The head of the Massachusetts health department says investigators still don’t know why regulators backed off a severe penalty against a pharmacy now implicated in a deadly meningitis outbreak.

In 2004, after product safety and sterility problems at the New England Compounding Center, the state’s pharmacy board proposed an official reprimand and three years’ probation for the New England Compounding Center.

The company protested, saying it could destroy the business. In 2006, the board entered into a more lenient, non-disciplinary agreement with NECC.

In a copy of testimony to be delivered before Congress on Thursday, interim commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith said “troubling questions remain” about why the more lenient agreement was adopted, even after interviews and a records review.

Smith said she won’t be satisfied until she knows the reasons behind the decision.