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Donna Kruzich, a 78-year-old Michigan woman, died in 2012 after receiving a routine injection for back pain. She was one of 64 people who died due to tainted steroids from a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy, which led to a deadly outbreak of fungal infections. The operator of the New England Compounding Center, Barry Cadden, is facing sentencing for involuntary manslaughter in Michigan court. Evidence later revealed that the contaminated steroids were the cause of Donna Kruzich’s death, leaving her family wondering how she had contracted meningitis.

Barry Cadden, who is currently serving a 14 1/2-year federal sentence for crimes related to the fungal infection outbreak, pleaded no contest to 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter in Michigan. Prosecutors agreed to a minimum prison term of 10 years, running concurrently with his federal sentence. Cadden’s sentencing has brought some closure to 11 grieving families, but others, including Michael Kruzich, are disappointed that he will not face additional penalties. Kruzich’s family would have liked to see Cadden stand trial, feeling that justice has not been fully served for his mother’s death.

New England Compounding Center played a crucial role in the U.S. healthcare system by providing customized medications that were not available from larger drug manufacturers. In 2012, the pharmacy was supplying pain-relieving steroids to doctors across the country, including those in Michigan where Donna Kruzich sought treatment. However, the lab conditions were unsanitary, leading to the growth of mold in the production process. Investigators uncovered negligence and corner-cutting at the pharmacy, highlighting profit-driven decisions made by Barry Cadden that prioritized financial gain over patient safety.

While Cadden expressed remorse for the suffering caused by the outbreak during his federal trial, his former colleague Glenn Chin has not reached a plea deal and is facing trial on 11 second-degree murder charges. The attorney general of Michigan stated that the plea agreement was in alignment with the desires of most families affected by the outbreak. Crime victims in Michigan have the opportunity to speak in court, with Michael Kruzich choosing to submit a poem on behalf of his family to express their loss and disappointment in the legal proceedings regarding Donna Kruzich’s death. The tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center had far-reaching effects, sickening more than 700 people in 20 states, leading to a reexamination of oversight and safety in compounding pharmacies.

Despite the sentencing of Barry Cadden for involuntary manslaughter in Michigan, some families impacted by the fungal infection outbreak believe that justice has not been fully served. The tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center had dire consequences for patients across the U.S., leading to numerous deaths and illnesses. While Cadden’s plea agreement brought some resolution for affected families, the failure to secure additional penalties has left some feeling that the legal process has come up short in holding those responsible fully accountable. Michael Kruzich, whose mother died from the contaminated steroids, expressed his disappointment in the outcome and the limitations of the justice system to provide closure for his family.

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