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Report: FDA wanted to close Mass pharmacy in 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Nearly a decade ago, federal health inspectors wanted to shut down the pharmacy linked to a recent deadly meningitis outbreak until it cleaned up its operations, according to congressional investigators.

About 440 people have been sickened by contaminated steroid shots distributed by New England Compounding Center, and more than 32 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began in September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That has put the Framingham, Mass.-based pharmacy at the center of congressional scrutiny and calls for greater regulation of compounding pharmacies, which make individualized medications for patients and have long operated in a legal gray area between state and federal laws.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a detailed history of NECC's regulatory troubles on Monday, ahead of a Wednesday meeting to examine how the outbreak could have been prevented. The 25-page report summarizes and quotes from FDA and state inspection memos, though the committee declined to release the original documents.

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EU talks on banking union to expose divisions

BRUSSELS (AP) â¿¿ European finance ministers inched toward strengthening their banking sectors and the management of their economies at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, but put off decisions on comprehensive solutions to the region's financial crisis.

Weakness in the banking sector and inadequate monitoring of national budgets were among the prime causes of Europe's three-year crisis, which has seen several countries struggle with too much debt. Fixing those areas is crucial not only to ending the current crisis but also preventing a repeat.

European leaders have agreed, in theory, to cede significant amounts of sovereignty to fix those problems. As part of this plan, the European Central Bank will be put in charge of all of the banks in the 17 countries that use the euro by as early as next year. And they have proposed giving the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, the power to review and even reject their national budgets to prevent against overspending.

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