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House committee seeks briefing from meningitis-linked pharmacy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The pharmacy at the center of a deadly meningitis outbreak was asked on Thursday by a House of Representatives committee to brief lawmakers about the role that its products may have played in the crisis.

Bipartisan lawmakers on the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee called on the New England Compounding Center co-owner Barry Cadden to provide a documented picture of his company's operations at a meeting with panel staff to be held no later than October 18.

Officials at the Framingham, Massachusetts-based pharmacy were not immediately available for comment.

NECC produced contaminated vials of steroid treatments for back and joint pain that health officials say could be behind an outbreak of rare fungal meningitis that has sickened 170 people in 11 U.S. states, leaving a dozen dead.

"We ask you to preserve all documents and communications that may be relevant to understanding how the product was contaminated and distributed, as well as business practices of the NECC in general," Republican committee chairman Fred Upton said in an October 11-dated letter to Cadden.

The letter was co-authored by six other committee members - three Republicans and three Democrats - including ranking Democrat Henry Waxman.

Committee staff was due to be briefed on the public health crisis this week by officials from the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(This version of the story corrects the company headquarters to Framingham from Cambridge in paragraph three.)

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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