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NATIONAL BRIEFS


MASSACHUSETTS: Unclean conditions at lab

State officials investigating the New England Compounding Center, a pharmacy linked to a deadly outbreak of meningitis, said Tuesday they found shoddy sterilization practices and unclean conditions there, including debris-covered floor mats and standing water from a leaking boiler. They said the lab shipped steroids from the possibly contaminated batches suspected in the outbreak before it received its own test results confirming the drugs were sterile. Gov. Deval Patrick ordered state pharmacy regulators to conduct surprise inspections, the first of which happened Tuesday, at similar companies and to tighten oversight. The state has moved to revoke the company's operating license and the licenses of its top three pharmacists. The outbreak of fungal meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, has sickened 308 people, including 23 who have died, in 17 states, linked to a steroid taken mainly for back pain.


INDIANA: Anti-abortion law rejected

Indiana intruded between women and their physicians in enacting a law that blocked Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a lower court's finding that Indiana violated federal regulations in denying Planned Parenthood the funds for health services, including cancer screenings. It is the latest setback in conservative efforts in several states to cut off funding for abortion providers.


CALIFORNIA: Surfer killed by shark

A surfer was killed Tuesday by a shark off Vandenberg Air Force Base, authorities said. Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, of Orcutt was bitten by the shark in his upper torso off Surf Beach in Lompoc, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said. A friend surfing with Solorio pulled him out of the water and started first aid, but he was pronounced dead by paramedics. The Air Force allows public access to some of its beaches, northwest of Los Angeles.

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