Deadly meningitis outbreak connected to recycling industry veteran

Deadly meningitis outbreak connected to recycling industry veteran

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

The co-owner of a drug-mixing company involved in a meningitis outbreak that has sickened hundreds and killed 15 has longtime connections to the e-scrap recycling industry.

The New England Compounding Center (NECC), a firm that blends pharmaceuticals, and Conigliaro Industries, a Massachusetts recycling firm that's been around for more than two decades, not only share a geographic location in Framingham, they also share a co-owner and -founder in Greg Conigliaro.

Conigliaro has been notable in the industry for years for seeking out and handling hard-to-recycle materials, such as mattresses or plastics. His recycling company, which is located just behind NECC, was also an early player in the e-scrap recycling world, finding a novel use for plastic CRT housings in cold patch pothole filler. Another product his firm produced was Plas Crete, a plastic-cement compound partially made from mixed Nos. 3-7 plastics.

According to a report in the Associated Press, NECC was co-founded in 1998 by Barry Cadden, who is married to Conigliaro's sister, Lisa. Cadden is a pharmacist and in charge of NECCs pharmacy operations. The meningitis outbreak is believed to stem from a fungus contamination in a steroid solution — mostly used in spinal injections to alleviate back pain — provided by the firm. NECC's has surrendered its license and a company spokesperson told the AP "they are focused on helping investigators in the meningitis outbreak."

Asked about Conigliaro Industries, Lynn Rubinstein, the executive director of the Northeast Recycling Council said, "They do a lot of great stuff. They're pretty innovative." However, Rubinstein didn't even know that Conigliaro had any involvement in the drug compounding industry and suspects that the connection isn't widely known.

Various reports on the outbreak further allege that the drug compounding company may have been involved in selling medicines in a manner that that it was not licensed to do so. For example, pharmaceutical compounders are only supposed to blend medicines for individual prescriptions, and it appears that the steroid was manufactured in a manner that violates that provision.

"I don't see how they have anything to do with each other," said an individual at Conigliaro Industries who answered a phone call from Resource Recycling. No further comment was given by anyone at Conigliaro Industries by press time.

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