Now the New England Compounding Center and its practices are under scrutiny as investigators try to determine how a steroid solution supplied by the pharmacy apparently became contaminated with a fungus. The drug has sickened nearly 200 people in 12 states, killing 15. Most of the patients had received spinal injections of the steroid for back pain.
NECC was founded in 1998 by Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro as a compounding pharmacy, a laboratory that custom-mixes solution, creams and other medicines in dosages and forms that often are unavailable from pharmaceutical companies.
Cadden, who is married to Conigliaro's sister, Lisa, had the medical know-how behind NECC, earning a pharmacy degree from the University of Rhode Island. In a 2002 newsletter, he wrote that compounding had rebounded, after falling off when pharmaceutical companies began manufacturing drugs in the 1950s and '60s, and could help patients with painful conditions that demand "novel approaches.