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Washington (AFP) – The owners and insurers of a bankrupt pharmacy at the center of a deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak have reached a tentative agreement to pay more than $100 million to compensate victims, U.S. media reported Tuesday.

The fund will also serve to pay creditors of the New England Compounding Center, whose tainted drugs are blamed for dozens of deaths last year.

“We are working very hard to expedite this process and get money to victims as quickly as possible,” bankruptcy trustee Paul Moore, who led the settlement negotiations, told The Boston Globe. “This is a first step, although a significant one.”

The deal must first be finalized and approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

At least 751 people in 20 states contracted fungal meningitis or other infections from steroid injections made by the pharmacy, including 64 people who died.

Victims and their families will likely receive at least tens of thousands of dollars on average under the settlement, according to the Globe. They have until January 15 to file claims with the bankruptcy court.

Authorities investigating the NECC have said that its now defunct facility outside Boston made medications in unsanitary conditions with bacteria and mold so prevalent it could be seen with the naked eye.

The outbreak has led to calls for tighter regulation of the loosely controlled pharmaceutical compounding industry.

Critics say drug manufacturers have found a way to sidestep costly and strict oversight by classifying themselves as pharmacies, which are given freer rein to mix drug compounds for patients.

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From left Reps. Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Louis Gohmert

Screenshot from The Hill video

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and three other “Sedition Caucus” Republicans held a press conference Tuesday allegedly to decry the conditions at the D.C. jail, which is housing accused suspects awaiting trial for actions during the January 6 Capitol riot. But Greene and her three co-members used the event primarily to further false far-right claims about the insurrection, while wrongly claiming they are being “persecuted” by the government – a talking point Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly used.

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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir.

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