Michigan's attorney general is seeking a criminal investigation into the deaths of 17 residents from contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.
Bill Schuette announced Tuesday that he asked the state Court of Appeals to order a multi-county grand jury probe of the New England Compounding Center, based in Massachusetts. He said Michigan leads the country in patients affected by the fungal meningitis outbreak, with 259 infections and 14 deaths.
Three residents died after being treated in Indiana, so Michigan's death toll also has been reported at 17.
"Hundreds of Michigan citizens and their families have endured terrible pain and deaths of loved ones suffering from illnesses caused by these tainted steroid injections," said Schuette. "This investigation is necessary (to) uncover the truth as to how this unspeakable tragedy happened and to restore public faith in our healthcare system."
Schuette filed a formal petition today to request a grand jury investigation of NECC with the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court will review Schuette's petition to determine whether to appoint a Circuit Court judge to lead a confidential grand jury investigation.
A grand jury can compel testimony under oath, while state investigators don't have that power. The grand jury can decide whether to issue criminal indictments after reviewing the evidence.
"We will discover what went wrong, bring bad actors to justice, and then work to implement new protections to ensure tragedies like this never happen," Schuette said.
Schuette says there is probable cause to believe crimes were committed in Genesee, Grand Traverse, Livingston and Macomb counties - which have private clinics that administered the steroids.