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Judge tosses 2 convictions in Framingham compounding pharmacy case

Federal agents raided the New England Compounding Center in 2012 amid the scandal.
Federal agents raided the New England Compounding Center in 2012 amid the scandal.(Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File)

A federal judge Friday threw out the convictions of two of the people entangled in the case of the notorious Framingham compounding pharmacy that sent out tainted drugs that killed more than 100 people.

US District Judge Richard G. Stearns granted motions of acquittal from Gregory Conigliaro, a former owner of the company, and Sharon Carter, the company’s former operations manager.

They were each convicted in December on a charge of conspiring to defraud the United States Food and Drug Administration by frustrating its regulatory oversight of the New England Compounding Center.

Conigliaro and Carter argued that because the FDA’s “regulatory authority over compounding pharmacies was not clearly established, their conspiracy convictions were legally impossible and violated basic norms of due process,” Stearns wrote.

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“As I agree that defendants’ rights to fair notice and due process were violated, their motions will be allowed,” he wrote.

“The evidence plainly shows that during the life of the charged conspiracy, the FDA was not, and did not believe that it should be, in the business of regulating companies like NECC that were engaged in anticipatory pharmacy compounding. Thus, the bottom line: during the critical times, these defendants (and NECC) could not have defrauded the FDA by interfering with the relevant regulatory functions because there were none to speak of,” he wrote in a 51-page decision.

Dan Rabinovitz, Conigliaro’s lawyer, said in an e-mail the decision “validates what we have said all along” and he and his client were “thrilled.”

Federal prosecutors said in December that a total of 793 patients had been harmed in a national outbreak of fungal meningitis after receiving injections of a tainted medicine made by NECC — and more than 100 had died.

A number of other people have been convicted on different charges related to the pharmacy’s role in the 2012 outbreak, including co-owner Barry J. Cadden, who was sentenced to nine years in prison, and Glenn Chin, the former supervisory pharmacist, who was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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