Pharmacists sentenced in connection with 2011 patient deaths

Two pharmacists have been sentenced to prison time in connection with nine patient deaths at Alabama hospitals in 2011, including two at Alabaster’s Shelby Baptist Medical Center, pictured. (File)

Two pharmacists have been sentenced to prison time in connection with nine patient deaths at Alabama hospitals in 2011, including two at Alabaster’s Shelby Baptist Medical Center, pictured. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – Two local pharmacists will spend 12 and 10 months in prison, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to their involvement in a 2011 string of tainted IV bags leading to nine patient deaths in area hospitals, including two at Alabaster’s Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins sentenced 60-year-old McCalla resident David Allen to 12 months in prison and sentenced 48-year-old Hoover resident William Timothy Rodgers to 10 months in prison on June 21.

Allen and Rogers each must pay a $5,000 fine, and will be on supervised probation for one year after they are released from prison.

The two suspects both have ties to the former Meds IV company off Oxmoor Road in Birmingham, where Allen served as the pharmacist in charge and Rogers served as the president.

In 2011, nine patients at six central Alabama hospitals developed rare bloodborne bacterial infections and died after receiving intravenous total parenteral nutrition supplement prepared and distributed by Meds IV. Among those deaths were two at Shelby Baptist.

TPN is an intravenous substance given to patients who otherwise would not be able to receive nutrition naturally. TPN is delivered to hospitals each day, and has a shelf life of 24 hours. It is custom-formulated to meet each patient’s nutritional needs, and any unused TPN is discarded at the end of each day SBMC officials previously said.

Shelby Baptist staff members, particularly the hospital’s infection control manager, played a key role in identifying TPN as the source of the bacterial infection, and alerted Meds IV, the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control to the issue.

Following the deaths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation into Meds IV, and discovered the company compounded its own amino acid solution, which was mixed with other ingredients to form TPN.

“According to the charging document, the amino acid was prepared by Meds IV outside a laminar airflow workbench and was kept unrefrigerated, in a room that was not sterile, in a large pot sitting on the floor, sometimes overnight, before it was sterilized and used,” read a June 21 Department of Justice press release, noting the FDA and CDC discovered a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on a tapwater faucet, in an open container of amino acid powder and on the surface of TPN mixing equipment at the Meds IV facility.

“As alleged in the information, Allen supervised all compounding at Meds IV, was specifically responsible for reviewing and approving TPN formulations and was also responsible for filling the individual prescriptions Meds IV received for patient-specific TPN products,” read the release. “The information alleged that Rogers was ultimately responsible for overseeing all of the day-to-day operations of Meds IV.”