By K. Lea Morris

October 30th, 2012  5:00pm

You’ve probably heard of the devastating and fatal meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections, but what you likely didn’t know is how former Massachusetts governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney fits into the story.

The meningitis epidemic, which has so far caused 25 deaths and another 344 people to fall ill across 18 states, has been traced to the failure of then-Gov. Mitt Romney to adequately regulate the Massachusetts pharmaceutical company that is being blamed for the deaths and injuries.

Massachusetts state records have revealed that a Massachusetts regulatory agency found that the New England Compounding Co., the company at the center of the outbreak, repeatedly failed to meet accepted standards in 2004. Despite these failures however, a reprimand was withdrawn by the Romney administration in apparent deference to the company’s business interests.

According to the records, the New England Compounding Co. was cited by authorities for failure to meet regulatory standards on at least six occasions, and the company was in line to be subjected to a three-year probation. But that never happened, thanks to then-governor Romney’s administration.

This action or inaction as it were, is right in line with Mr. Romney’s hands-off approach to government regulation. However, as we’ve seen time and time again, a hands-off approach in the realm of pharmaceutical regulation is dangerous, often fatal, and simply unacceptable.

K. Lea Morris is an associate at the firm of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty, and Proctor.  Lea focuses her practice on Mass Torts and works on a number of projects including Gadolinium, Trasylol, Avandia, Breast Implant, and Reglan.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced