SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Federal prosecutors have unholstered a new weapon to take aim at pharmacies in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, Bobby L. Christine, announced a civil action naming a McIntosh County Pharmacy, it’s parent company, and their Chief Financial Officer and Pharmacist-in-charge.
A civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Brunswick accuses Darien Pharmacy and pharmacist-in-charge, Janice Ann Colter, 62, of Darien, with filling prescriptions for controlled substances that she “knew or should have known were not issued for legitimate medical reasons and by a provider not acting with the regular course of professional practice.” The lawsuit represents the first-ever Controlled Substances Act suit against a pharmacy in the history of the Southern District of Georgia.
The 34-page civil action says “…For years, Darien Pharmacy has filled prescriptions for controlled substances that it knew or should have known were not issued for legitimate medical reasons and by a provider not acting within the regular course of professional practice. In doing so, Darien Pharmacy has ignored numerous red flags, including:
- Patients traveling long distances to obtain prescriptions from high- volume opioid prescribers despite the presence of multiple, equally or better-qualified practitioners within shorter distances;
- Prescriptions for concurrent doses of multiple controlled substances from the same category, e.g., concurrent, long-term prescriptions for two or more opioids such as oxycodone and hydromorphone;
- Prescriptions for concurrent doses of multiple strengths of the same controlled substance, e.g., concurrent, long-term prescriptions for oxycodone 30mg and oxycodone 15mg;
- Prescriptions with daily dosages that are greater than necessary for medical purposes;
- Prescriptions for drug combinations that are well known in the medical and pharmacy community as carrying a high risk of drug abuse;
- Prescriptions from providers who consistently prescribe the most potent strength available for controlled substances, known to command the highest “street value;”
- Prescriptions for large quantities of controlled substances presented by multiple members of the same household with the same last name;
- Providers whose patients disproportionately pay for controlled substances in cash;
- Patients who request and pay an out-of-pocket surcharge for pills with specific markings or colors; and
- Early refills of controlled substances by patients who should have had remaining doses available…”
The complaint lists Agape Prescriptions “R” Us, Inc. as the owner of Darien Pharmacy. Attempts for a comment on the pending case were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon. No trial date has been set at this time.