N.C. plant shipped tainted syringes that killed five people

Federal authorities are hunting the mastermind behind a "horrific case" in which bacteria-laden syringes shipped from an Angier plant sickened at least a hundred people and killed five.

Two men pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Raleigh for their roles in ignoring sterility standards at the former AM2PAT Inc. plant. Conditions there appeared more consistent with a textile factory than a pharmaceutical facility.

The men – plant manager Aniruddha Patel and quality control director Ravindra Kumar Sharma – were each sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for fraud and allowing tainted drugs into the marketplace.

They were rewarded with a relatively light sentence in exchange for information about chief executive officer Dushyant Patel, whose company sold $6.9 million worth of heparin and saline syringes in 2006-07 that did not undergo proper sterility testing.

Dushyant Patel, indicted late last week on 10 charges that include fraud and selling adulterated medical devices, has not been arrested. Authorities think he may have fled to his homeland in India. They are seeking help from Interpol to find him.

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