A federal grand jury has begun to hand down subpoenas in its investigation of the deadly meningitis outbreak linked to a Framingham pharmacy, reports CBS Boston TV.
Employees at Framingham-based New England Compounding Center are among those who have been called to testify.
It is an indication that the federal government is pursuing criminal charges against NECC and employees, who may have been negligent, reports CBS Boston TV.
A federal judge has ruled any criminal case against a Framingham specialty pharmacy New England Compounding Center (NECC) would have priority over the numerous civil suits.
The most recent numbers have 36 people dead and more than 510 infected with meningitis linked to NECC.
Earlier this month, two congressional hearings and one hearing at the Massachusetts statehouse was held on how this deadly outbreak could have happened.
NECC owner Barry Cadden took the fifth in the congressional hearing.
Just before Thanksgiving, a U.S. District Judge Dennis Saylor has ordered an expedited hearing to determine whether to freeze at least $461 million in assets belonging to New England Compounding Center, its owners and two related companies, as more than 40 lawsuits have been filed in numerous states.
In a congressional report, the FDA considered New England Compounding Center to be a pharmacy in 2003. Pharmacies are regulated by the state, drug manufacturers are regulated by the FDA.
Congressman Ed Markey, who represents Framingham, is the senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
He said NECC fell into a "blackhole" between federal and state regulators and became a "compounding manufacturer" and not a compounding pharmacy.
The two Washington committees may create legislation to shift oversight of compounding pharmacies from states to the FDA.
Also in November, Massachusetts fired the director of its Board of Pharmacy after he failed to investigate a complaint against New England Compounding Center.
New England Compounding Center (NECC) recalled more than 17,000 steroids in September indicating they may contain a fungus.
The FDA released a list of customers, who received products from NECC in Framingham on or after May 21.
Click here to find all of Framingham Patch’s coverage of NECC and the meningitis outbreak.