Mingo Pharmacy agrees to penalty
by Ron Gregory
Charlesron – Adkins Pharmacy, Inc. (“API”), a pharmacy located in Gilbert, has agreed to pay civil monetary penalties to resolve allegations that the pharmacy violated the Controlled Substances Act by filling illegitimate prescriptions, United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced today.
API has also entered into a three-year compliance agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that imposes heightened reporting and oversight requirements and sanctions for non-compliance.
Pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, API agreed to pay $88,085.73 to resolve allegations that it had filled prescriptions for controlled substances that were not valid at its location in Mingo County between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2015. During this time, API filled compound opioid prescriptions issued by physicians affiliated with Hitech Opioid Pharmachovigilance Expertise Clinic, PLLC (HOPE Clinic), even though API “knew or should have known that said prescriptions were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice,” according to the settlement agreement.
The Controlled Substances Act prohibits the distribution or dispensing of a controlled substance without a valid prescription. A valid prescription for a controlled substance must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his or her practice. The investigation indicated that the pharmacist-in-charge at the pharmacy should have known that patients had presented illegitimate prescriptions that should not have been filled.
“The diversion of prescription opioids fueled an epidemic and devastated a countless number of West Virginia families,” said Stuart. “When pharmacies ignore red flags indicative of illegitimate opioid prescriptions for the sake of profits, we will use every available criminal and civil enforcement tool to hold them accountable.”
Stuart added, “Pharmacists serve on the front lines of America’s opioid epidemic and they share responsibility with physicians to protect those whom they serve from the dangers associated with prescription medications,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott, of DEA’s Louisville Division. “DEA will use every available tool to hold accountable those in the pharmacy industry who choose to put profit over customer safety,” Scott added.
The DEA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Alan McGonigal.
The settlement is a result of the United States Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Abuse, Recovery and Response Team (ARREST), an approach linking civil and criminal enforcement efforts together in a comprehensive attack on the opioid epidemic and healthcare fraud.