Bryan Cohen Sep. 19, 2013, 7:20pm

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) -- Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined Steve Arwood, the director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and state Sen. Joe Hune Thursday in proposing new legislation to strengthen oversight of compounding pharmacies.

The proposed legislation comes after a comprehensive review of state regulations in the wake of a meningitis outbreak linked to the New England Compounding Center.

The Massachusetts-based NECC allegedly distributed tainted steroid injections to patients at clinics in four Michigan counties, leading to 264 infections and 19 deaths.

"This was a horrific tragedy where Michigan citizens seeking pain relief left clinics with devastating meningitis infections, or even worse, lost their lives," Schuette said in a statement. "We owe it to the victims and their families to find answers, and to do all we can to ensure a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again.

"This legislation will hold accountable every compounding pharmacy operating in Michigan and ensure these companies put patient safety before their bottom line."

The proposed law would add four major safeguards to Michigan laws that govern pharmacies, including accountability at the top, accurate record keeping, background checks and regular and robust oversight.

Schuette filed a lawsuit against NECC last October alleging the company acted as a drug manufacturer, not as a compounding facility, when it distributed large amounts of medication to hospitals and clinics in Michigan.

NECC was only licensed to fill individual prescriptions for Michigan patients as a compounding facility. The company's license was suspended and the now-defunct company was forced to cease operations in Michigan.

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