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Layoffs at firm tied to Massachusetts pharmacy in meningitis outbreak

Employees at Ameridose LLC, which produces drugs for hospital pharmacies, were notified of the layoffs in a letter Thursday.

The notice affects 650 employees at Ameridose and 140 employees at its marketing and support arm, Medical Sales Management, said Ameridose spokesman Andrew Paven.

The Westborough company has paid its employees since it voluntarily closed for inspection Oct. 10 because of problems at its sister company, the New England Compounding Center pharmacy in Framingham near Boston.

The meningitis outbreak, which has spread to 19 states and sickened more than 400 people, 31 of whom have died, has been linked to a steroid made by the NECC.

No problems have been linked to Ameridose products. But last week, the company recalled all its products after U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials told the company it must improve its sterility testing. A small number of Ameridose workers will be retained amid the recall and to implement changes that federal regulators are expected to recommend, Paven said.

The mass layoffs will begin Friday; employees will be considered laid off as of Nov. 30, the company said. The company said it hopes the layoffs will be temporary.

“In our current circumstances, our business prospects are very difficult to predict, and it is our hope that your layoff will be temporary and that you will be brought back to work,” read the letter from Ameridose’s human resources director, Geri Weinstein.

The company hoped the closure would be short term, but it has been extended twice, most recently until Nov. 19, leaving uncertainty about its future business.

“While we continue to expect to resume operations, we have now determined that because of continued inspection by state and federal authorities it may be necessary to resume operations at a reduced level,” Weinstein said.

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