Category: Society / November 14, 2012 3:03 PM EST
Members of a congressional committee investigating the deadly meningitis outbreak held a hearing on Wednesday (November 14) into the tragic circumstances that caused the deaths of 32 people and sickened 438 others in 19 states earlier this year.
Lawmakers accuse the Food and Drug Administration of failing to prevent the crisis by moving too slowly against a Massachusetts pharmacy.
The panel hopes to learn why regulators took no action against Framingham, Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center (NECC), which manufactured the tainted drug - despite repeated problems dating back to 1999, including adverse patient reactions to a sterile steroid treatment from as early as 2002.
Drug compounding has evolved in recent decades to include large-scale production that some experts view as drug manufacturing that should be subject to FDA regulation.
The committee heard emotional testimony from the 78-year-old widow of a Kentucky judge who was among the first to die in the meningitis outbreak.
"It was such a useless thing that happened to my husband," Joyce Lovelace said, testifying from a wheelchair.
"I can't begin to tell you what I have lost," she said, her voice breaking with emotion. "I've come here begging you to do something about it."