New England Compounding Center found unsterile and dirty

Meningitis outbreak investigation is disturbing

BOSTON, Massachusets - Massachusetts officials say their preliminary investigation has found problems with cleanliness and sterilization at a pharmacy linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.

   They said the problems at the New England Compounding Center included standing water that collected outside a room that was supposed to be sterile and a failure to adequately ensure sterilization equipment was working.

   Health officials also said it appears the company was producing medication in large batches, in violation of its license. But company officials said it's hard to believe the state wasn't aware of the scope of its operations since they were transparent with regulators.

   The investigation is ongoing, but Gov. Deval Patrick says he's toughening oversight at similar pharmacies. The steps include surprise inspections.

   The outbreak has sickened 308 people, 23 of whom have died.

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