After 15 dead, feds search Mass. firm in meningitis case

A Food and Drug Administration Agent stands at the doorway of New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, as investigators work inside. AP Photo/Bill Sikes

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Criminal investigators from the Food and Drug Administration have visited a Massachusetts company whose steroid medication has been linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.

FDA spokesman Steven Immergut said Tuesday the agents' work at the New England Compounding Center is part of the investigation into the outbreak, which has killed at least 15 people and sickened more than 200 others in 15 states. Nearly all the victims had received steroid injections for back pain.

The Department of Justice confirmed earlier Tuesday that it had opened an investigations into the NECC, but added it was "entirely premature to suggest what the results" would be.

Company attorney Paul Cirel says it's "difficult to understand the purpose" of the FDA search. He says the company has been clear it would voluntarily provide anything investigators requested. He says the company will continue to cooperate.

Federal and state investigators say they've found fungus in more than 50 vials from the company but haven't said whether they've pinpointed the contamination source.

FDA officials have said the three potentially contaminated lots had over 17,000 vials in them.

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