CVS Blacklists Second Set of Doctors Accused of Overprescribing Painkillers

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

CVS is again stepping up its own internal efforts to combat the nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. According to Reuters, the second largest retail pharmacy chain announced it is cutting off access to the most powerful painkillers for more than 36 doctors and health care providers around the country. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been keeping a close eye on CVS over the past few years. According to Reuters, CVS began revoking the dispensing privileges of certain providers back in 2011. CVS disclosed this round of suspensions on August 21, 2013.

To read the article from Reuters, click here.

CVS Closely Analyzed Prescription Practices of Health Care Providers Before Suspending Dispensing Privileges.

CVS said the suspension followed an analysis of prescriptions brought to its drugstores from March 2010 through January 2012, for painkillers such as oxycondone, hydrocodone, and methadone, according to Reuters. CVS said it first identified several dozen health care providers, from its database of nearly one million, with “extreme” patters of prescribing high-risk drugs. CVS allegedly compared their prescription rates to other providers in the same specialty and geographic region, the ages of the patients, and the number of patients paying with cash for the drugs.

After analyzing the results, CVS said the company’s stores and mail-order pharmacy will no longer dispense controlled substances for 36 providers who it said could not justify their prescribing habits, according to the Orlando Sentinel. CVS did not disclose the names or location of the physicians blacklisted this time around.

Click here to read the Orlando Sentinel article.

Second Time CVS Has Blacked Listed Specific Doctors.

In November 2011, at least 22 Central Florida doctors received an unsigned letter from CVS telling them that the company’s pharmacists would no longer fill prescriptions they write for painkillers and other powerful drugs. The letter was called a “blacklist” and was criticized as discriminatory. One Orlando doctor tried to fight back with legal action, claiming that CVS basically called him a criminal. To read more on the previous blacklist, click here to read my blog.

So far, we have not heard of any legal action pending against CVS from providers recently added to the blacklist.

DEA Previously Pulled Controlled Substance Licenses from Two Sanford, Florida, CVS Pharmacies.

As previously stated, the DEA has had its eyes on CVS for a while. You may remember that in September 2012, the DEA revoked the registrations (controlled substance licenses) from two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Florida. I previously wrote about this, click here to read that blog.

Who is Responsible for the Prescription Drug Epidemic?

The act of prescribing powerful, and sometimes deadly, addictive drugs inappropriately for a health care provider’s personal gain has grown. It’s argued that pharmacies have a role to play in the oversight of controlled substance prescriptions. Pharmacists, as well as physicians and all health care providers, have an ethical (and legal duty) to ensure that a prescription for a controlled substance is appropriate.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Cases.

The Health Law Firm represents physicians, pharmacists, pharmacies, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies.
If you are aware of an investigation of you or your practice, or if you have been contacted by the DEA or DOH, contact an experienced health law attorney immediately.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of CVS’ ban on filling controlled substance prescriptions from certain doctors? Do you think this will help with the national prescription drug abuse epidemic? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Pavuk, Amy. “CVS Cracks Down on Doctors with ‘Extreme Patters’ of Prescribing High-Risk Drugs.” Orlando Sentinel. (August 29, 2013). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-cvs-crackdown-doctors-20130829,0,5193527.story?dssReturn

Wohl, Jessica. “CVS Cuts Access to Opiod Pain-Killers for Suspect Doctors.” Reuters. (August 21, 2013). From: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/21/us-cvscaremark-painkillers-idUSBRE97K17120130821

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Recall Alert: FDA Warns Steroid Injections Compounded by Tennessee Pharmacy May Be Contaminated

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out a warning to health care professionals that steroid injections compounded by Main Street Family Pharmacy, LLC, in Tennessee, may be contaminated. The announcement came on May 24, 2013. So far, seven patients have allegedly suffered adverse reactions from the medications. The FDA says it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy to investigate. The steroid injections were allegedly sent to 13 states, including Florida.

To read the press release from the FDA, click here.

Steroid Injections Recalled.

According to an article in the Associated Press, officials have not yet confirmed the products are contaminated. The FDA is treating all sterile products from Main Street Family Pharmacy as if they were contaminated as a precaution. The pharmacy has agreed to recall all of its sterile products. Click here to read the Associated Press article.

The injections in question allegedly contain the same drug at the center of the October 2012, deadly fungal meningitis outbreak. More than 55 people, including five in Florida were killed and 740 others were sickened after receiving contaminated injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. I previously blogged about that outbreak. To read more, click here.

Patients in North Carolina and Illinois Allegedly Reacted to Injections.

Federal authorities have allegedly identified seven cases of patients who have suffered complications after being injected with the potentially contaminated medications. There are five cases in Illinois and two cases in North Carolina. The Illinois patients supposedly have skin infections and one patient in North Carolina allegedly suffered from a fungal infection.

Florida Department of Health Working to Contain Allegedly Tainted Injections Statewide.

According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), at least three Florida facilities received the drugs under investigation. Two of the facilities are in Melbourne, Florida, and one is in Chipley, Florida. The Florida DOH says it is not aware of any local cases of infections from these drugs.

To read the press release from the Florida DOH, click here.

Previous Florida Case of Contaminated Medication.

We have previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It has been accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog on this.

Congress Debating on Giving Authority Over Compounding Pharmacies to FDA.

Currently, compounding pharmacies are regulated by state pharmacy boards. There is currently legislation moving through Congress that would give the FDA direct authority over the compounding manufacturers. The goal is to prevent any national outbreaks tied to compounded medications.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sound Off.

Do you think each state should be responsible for regulating compounding pharmacies, or do you think the FDA should be responsible? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Gentry, Carol. “FL Got Drugs Linked to New Outbreak.” Health News Florida. (May 24, 2013). From: http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/fl-got-drugs-linked-new-outbreak

Kelly, Christopher. “FDA Alerts Health Care Providers of Adverse Reactions Associated with Steroid Injections from Main Street Family Pharmacy in Tennessee.” Food and Drug Administration (May 24, 2013). From: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm353941.htm

Stobbe, Mike and Loller, Travis. “FDA Warns of Infections Tied to Tennessee Pharmacy.” The Associated Press. (May 24, 2013). From: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=186473297

Florida Department of Health. “The Florida Department of Health Partners with Federal and State Health Organizations to Ward of Adverse Reactions Associated with Steroid Injections.” Florida Department of Health. (May 24, 2013). From: http://newsroom.doh.state.fl.us/wp-content/uploads/newsroom/2013/05/052413CDCinfection.pdf

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999. 

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Recalls Products from Two Different Compounding Pharmacies

CCS Blog LabelBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm and George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Two different compounding pharmacies have recently recalled products due to concerns from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The New Jersey compounding pharmacy, Med Prep Consulting, and Clinical Specialties Compounding in Georgia, both recalled products between March 17, 2013 and March 20, 2013.

The recalls were issued as the FDA and state agencies step up regulation on compounding pharmacies across the country. These agencies are trying to prevent another widespread outbreak, like the fungal meningitis outbreak in the fall of 2012, which is responsible for 50 deaths.

All Products from Med Prep Consulting Recalled.

Med Prep Consulting first issued a recall on March 17, 2013, for all lots of magnesium sulfate for injections after a hospital reported seeing visible particles in the containers. Three days later, the compounding pharmacy recalled all of its compounded products. Med Prep Consulting has halted production, processing and shipping. The FDA reported products distributed through March 15, 2013, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut need to be returned to the company. Click here to see all the recalled products from Med Prep Consulting.

Products from Georgia Compounding Pharmacy Allegedly Causing Eye Infections.

According to Modern Healthcare, at least five people have acquired serious eye infections associated with the use of the cancer drug Avastin packaged in syringes from Clinical Specialties Compounding. At the company’s facility in Georgia the FDA raised concerns about the lack of sterility assurance. Products covered under the recall were distributed nationwide, between October 19, 2012 and March 19, 2013. Until further notice, healthcare providers are asked to stop using all of these sterile products and return them to the company. Click here to read the press release on the recall from the FDA.

Franck’s Compounding Pharmacy in Florida  Caused Fungal Growth.

We have previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It has been accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog on this.

Compounding Pharmacies Under the Microscope.

Since the widespread fungal meningitis outbreak, compounding pharmacies have fallen under heightened scrutiny. The FDA is beefing up their oversight of compounding pharmacies, and, according to Modern Healthcare, the FDA and state Department of Health (DOH) agencies have been paying surprise visits to compounding pharmacies. Click here to read more from Modern Healthcare.

Deficiencies That are Common in Pharmacy Inspections.

Pharmacies and pharmacists are subject to many types of inspections. These inspections are necessary to determine whether the business and its employees are complying with state and federal laws and regulations. Administrative agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), FDA and DOH, have the authority to inspect pharmacies.

With our experience working with pharmacists and pharmacies we’ve seen a number of different inspection deficiencies. These errors may result in a complaint being filed and the beginning of the administrative law process regarding investigations and hearings.

Here are some common deficiencies often found during pharmacy inspections:

1. Pharmacy technicians not properly identified with name tags and identified as
pharmacy technicians (as opposed to pharmacists);

2. Pharmacy technicians not supervised by pharmacist;

3. Medication on shelves not properly labeled (including exact number of pills remaining in bottle);

4. Controlled substances not accurately recorded on appropriate forms; and

5. Not keeping schedule II inventory and dispensing records separate from schedule III-V records.

Click here to read a recent blog listing more deficiencies and your best defense to protect your pharmacy license and pharmacist license.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of the harsher regulations compound pharmacies are now facing? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Meinhardt, Jane. “Compounding Pharmacies Set to Navigate Potential Regulations.” Tampa Bay Business Journal. (January 25, 2013). From: http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/print-edition/2013/01/25/compounding-pharmacies-set-to-navigate.html?s=print

Blesch, Gregg. “Georgia Compounding Pharmacy Widens Recall.” Modern Healthcare. (March 22, 2013). From: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20130322/NEWS/303229959/#

Clinical Specialties. “Clinical Specialties Compounding Pharmacy Announces Voluntary Nationwide Recall of All lots of Sterile Products Repackaged and Distributed by Clinical Specialties Compounding Due to Lack of Sterility Assurance.” Food and Drug Administration. (March 20, 2013). From: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm344786.htm

About the Authors: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Investigates Six Walgreens Pharmacies in Florida

5 Indest-2008-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) served an Order to Show Cause (OSC) on a Fort Myers Walgreens pharmacy on February 21, 2013. According to the DEA, the OSC was served as a notice to provide Walgreens with an opportunity to show cause as to why their DEA registration should not be revoked. The Fort Myers pharmacy is one of six Walgreens pharmacies to be targeted for prescribing practices by the DEA.

Click here to read the press release from the DEA.

According to the DEA, these investigations are part of an effort to curb Florida’s prescription drug epidemic.

Six Walgreens Pharmacies and One Distribution Center Targeted by DEA.

In April 2012, the DEA served and Administrative Inspection Warrant (AIW) on the Fort Myers Walgreens pharmacy, as well as five other Walgreens pharmacies in Florida and its distribution center in Jupiter. According to the DEA, the AIWs were served to determine if the pharmacies were dispensing prescriptions for legitimate medical purposes.

Based on the DEA’s findings, the Walgreens distribution center was served with an immediate suspension order (ISO). Click here to read our previous blog on the ISO served on the distribution center.

Between November 2012 and February 2013, the DEA has served OSCs on six Florida Walgreens pharmacies.

According to an article in Naples News, no action has been taken against the stores’ licenses, so they are still able to fill prescriptions pain medications and controlled substances. An administrative hearing will be held in April 2013. The hearing is an opportunity for Walgreens to present their cases. To read the entire Naples News article, click here.

Two CVS Stores in Sanford, Florida Lost Controlled Substance Licenses.

In September 2012, the DEA revoked the controlled substance licenses from two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Florida. The two stores are accused of dispensing an inappropriate number of prescriptions for oxycodone and had a suspicious number of sales of other controlled substances. There is a blog on this story on our website, click here to read it.

The Ultimate Results of Such Crackdowns.
I am constantly being contacted by patients who are in dire straits, suffering because they cannot locate a pharmacy to fill their legitimate pain medicine prescriptions. These include injured military veterans, patients who are 100% disabled and on disability or social security, patients injured in automobile accidents and job-related accidents (whose medications are paid for by insurance, if they can find a pharmacy to fill it) and others with real chronic pain issues.

If the largest legitimate chains of pharmacies in the state and nation are not allowed to fill these prescriptions, where will these suffering patients turn? Are these actions driving our citizens into the hands of shady independent pharmacies that have fewer safeguards and less accountability? Are these actions driving our citizens to seek out illegal drug dealers and turn to illegal drugs to cope with their legitimate medical problems? I hope not.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of these investigations on big pharmacies? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Serves an Order to Show Cause on Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Fort Myers.” Drug Enforcement Administration. (February 22, 2013). From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/mia/2013/mia022213a.shtml

Freeman, Liz. “DEA Targets Fort Myers Walgreens, 5 Other State Stores.” Naples News. (March 7, 2013). From: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/mar/07/dea-targets-fort-myers-walgreens-5-other-state/?print=1

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. He does not own stock in Walgreens or any other pharmacy.

 

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Negligence Will Determine the Success or Failure of the Meningitis Lawsuits Against Doctors and Clinics

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The victims and survivors of the meningitis outbreak are now filing lawsuits against the physicians and clinics that administered the tainted steroids. According to an article in The Tennessean, on January 29, 2013, a husband who lost his wife to fungal meningitis filed the first lawsuit against a Nashville outpatient clinic. It’s believed hundreds of people were injected at the same clinic with the tainted steroids. The man is now seeking $12.5 million in damages.

Click here to read the entire article from The Tennessean.

This lawsuit is just one in what is expected to be a series of lawsuits, in not just Tennessee, but across the country.

Compounding Pharmacy Allegedly Behind the Meningitis Outbreak is Out of Business.

The meningitis outbreak was at a peak in the fall of 2012. Contaminated steroid injections were allegedly made at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. NECC is accused of shipping thousands of vials of tainted drugs across the country. There are allegedly 45 deaths nationwide from the steroids. The company shut down in October 2012, and filed for bankruptcy in December, according to an article in American Medical News.

Tennessee Complaint Alleges Outpatient Clinic Put Money Before Patients.

The man suing the Nashville outpatient clinic believes, among other things, that officials at the clinic put the company’s bottom line before patient care. The lawsuit specifically alleges:

1. The outpatient clinic ignored important information when it chose NECC to purchase thousands of vials of steroids,
2. That clinic officials failed to properly notify the victim that she had been injected with a potentially contaminated steroid,
3. That clinic officials failed to recommend the victim should receive treatment,
4. The clinic chose to purchase drugs from NECC because it was a cheaper than the safer alternatives.

Click here to read the entire complaint.

The Responsibility of Doctors and Clinics.

Negligence is the most common claim used against doctors in cases of defective medication. The assumption is that the physician breached the standard of care because he or she knew or should have known that NECC was not meeting applicable standards in compounding the medications. Another legal theory is that the physician should have known that certain medications should not have been compounded, but rather obtained directly from a manufacturer. I believe the liability of physicians and clinics might be established to the extent that the physicians were aware that the steroids distributed by NECC violated regulations on compounding prescription medications.

It’s imperative physicians and clinics are sure of the credentials of all vendors and suppliers.

I was recently quoted in an American Medical News article about physicians and clinics that are entangled in tainted drugs lawsuits. To read the entire article, click here.

Florida Compounding Pharmacy No Stranger to Fungal Outbreaks.

Florida has seen its share of fungal outbreaks. I previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It was accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog.

Pharmacists Need to Obtain Good Professional Liability Insurance.

Many pharmacists, especially those who work for state agencies, large hospitals, pharmacy chains or other large institutions, scrimp on their purchase of professional liability insurance. Many mistakenly believe their employer will cover any legal defense expenses. This is not true and is often found out too late.

A pharmacist should always carry his/her own professional negligence insurance. It is inexpensive and can cover many types of legal actions other than just civil negligence cases. Always, always, always be sure your insurance includes at least $25,000 in professional license defense coverage. Get this in writing!

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think about the lawsuits against these doctors and clinics? Who do you think should be help responsible: the compounding pharmacy that shipped the contaminated steroids, or the doctors and clinics that administered the steroid shots? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Roche Jr., Walter. “Meningitis Outbreak: Victim’s Husband Sues Saint Thomas Clinic.” The Tennessean. (January 31, 2013). From: http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013301300211&nclick_check=1

Wayne A. Reed v. Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center. Case Number 13C-417. Complaint. (January 29, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/Reed%20v.%20St.%20Thomas%20Outpatient.pdf

Gallegos, Alicia. “Physicians Entangled in Tainted Drugs Lawsuits.” American Medical News. (February 11, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/AMN_PhysicianLawsuits.PDF

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

The 25 Biggest Mistakes Pharmacists Make After Being Notified of a Department of Health Complaint

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The investigation of a complaint which could lead to the revocation of a pharmacist’s license to practice and the assessment of tens of thousands of dollars in fines, usually starts with a simple letter from the Department of Health (DOH). This is a very serious legal matter and it should be treated as such by the pharmacist who receives it. Yet, in many cases, attorneys are consulted by pharmacists after the entire investigation is over, and they have attempted to represent themselves throughout the case. Often, the mistakes that have been made severely compromise an attorney’s ability to achieve a favorable result for the pharmacist.

These are the 25 biggest mistakes we see in the pharmacy cases we are called upon to defend after a DOH investigation has been initiated:

1.  Failing to keep a current, valid address on file with the DOH (as required by law), which may seriously delay the receipt of the Uniform Complaint (notice of investigation), letters, and other important correspondence related to the investigation.

2.  Contacting the DOH investigator and providing him/her an oral statement or oral interview. (Note: There is no legal requirement to do this.)

3.  Making a written statement in response to the “invitation” extended by the DOH investigator to do so. (Note: There is no legal requirement to do this.)

4.  Failing to carefully review the complaint to make sure it has been sent to the correct pharmacist. (Note: Check name and license number).

5.  Failing to ascertain whether or not the investigation is on the “Fast Track” which may then result in an emergency suspension order (ESO) suspending the pharmacist’s license until all proceedings are concluded. (Note: This will usually be the case if there are allegations regarding drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual contact with a patient, mental health issues, or failure to comply with PRN instructions.)

6.  Providing a copy of the pharmacist’s curriculum vitae (CV) or resume to the investigator because the investigator requested them to do so. (Note: There is no legal requirement to do this.)

7.Believing that if they “just explain it,” the investigation will be closed and the case dropped.

8.  Failing to submit a timely objection to a DOH subpoena when there are valid grounds to do so.

9.  Failing to forward a complete copy of the patient medical record when subpoenaed by the DOH investigator as part of the investigation, when no objection is going to be filed.

10.  Delegating the task of providing a complete copy of the patient medical record to office staff, resulting in an incomplete or partial copy being provided.

11.  Failing to keep an exact copy of any medical records, documents, letters or statements provided to the investigator.

12.  Believing that the investigator has knowledge or experience in medical procedures or health care matters or procedures being investigated.

13.  Believing that the investigator is merely attempting to ascertain the truth of the matter and this will result in the matter being dismissed.

14.  Failing to check to see if their medical malpractice insurance carrier will pay the legal fees to defend them in this investigation.

15.  Talking to DOH investigators, staff or attorneys, in the mistaken belief that they are capable of doing so without providing information that can and will be used against them.

16.  Believing that because they haven’t heard anything for six months or more the matter has “gone away.” The matter does not ever just go away.

17.  Failing to submit a written request to the investigator at the beginning of the investigation for a copy of the complete investigation report and file and then following up with additional requests until it is received.

18.  Failing to wisely use the time while the investigation is proceeding to interview witnesses, obtain witness statements, conduct research, obtain experts, and perform other tasks that may assist defending the case.

19.  Failing to exercise the right of submitting documents, statements, and expert opinions to rebut the findings made in the investigation report before the case is submitted to the Probable Cause Panel of your licensing board for a decision.

20.  Taking legal advice from their colleagues regarding what they should do (or not do) in defending themselves in the investigation.

21.  Retaining “consultants” or other non-lawyer personnel to represent them.

22.  Believing that the case is indefensible so there is no reason to even try to have it dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel.

23.  Attempting to defend themselves.

24.  Believing that because they know someone with the Department of Health or a state legislator, that influence can be exerted to have the case dismissed.

25.  Failing to immediately retain the services of a health care attorney who is experienced in such matters to represent them, to communicate with the DOH investigator for them, and to prepare and submit materials to the Probable Cause Panel.

Bonus Point: 26. Communicating with the Department of Health about the pending case.

Not every case will require submission of materials to the Probable Cause Panel after the investigation is received and reviewed. There will be a few where the allegations made are not “legally sufficient” and do not constitute an offense for which the pharmacist may be disciplined.

In other cases, an experienced health care attorney may be successful in obtaining a commitment from the DOH attorney to recommend a dismissal to the Probable Cause Panel. In other cases (usually the most serious ones), for tactical reasons, the experienced health care attorney may recommend that you waive your right to have the case submitted to the Probable Cause Panel and that you proceed directly to an administrative hearing. The key to a successful outcome in all of these cases is to obtain the assistance of a health care lawyer who is experienced in appearing before the Board of Pharmacy in such cases and does so on a regular basis.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health Investigations of Pharmacists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Sex, Drugs and Money Lands Avalon Park Pharmacist in Handcuffs

9 Indest-2008-6By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Sex, prescription drugs and money – sounds like the next big rock ‘n’ roll song, doesn’t it? According to a number of news sources, the owner of an Avalon Park-area pharmacist was allegedly knowingly filling phony prescriptions for painkillers. The pharmacist is also accused of exchanging sex for drugs with at least one woman, according to the Orlando Sentinel. This investigation was led by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Both agencies simultaneously raided the pharmacy on November 29, 2012.

Avalon Park is a community it the greater Orlando area.
Filling Phony Prescriptions.

According to WFTV, the owner of the pharmacy and two employees sat handcuffed outside the pharmacy as federal drug agents reportedly removed boxes of evidence from the pharmacy during the raid. Agents then moved onto the pharmacist’s nearby home.

It’s believed another person was producing fake prescriptions and asking others to get them filled at the Avalon pharmacy and others around town. The people who fill the prescriptions are nicknamed “smurfs.” They are usually hired by a drug ring. They return the pills from the prescriptions they get filled, back to the ring. Click here to read what Papa Smurf has to say about his name being used in such a manner.

According to WFTV, 230 fraudulent prescriptions were produced and 33 were filled at the Avalon-area pharmacy.

Click here to watch WFTV’s report on this raid.
Pharmacist’s Alleged Relationship with Smurf.

A woman, who worked as a smurf, allegedly told federal agents she had sex with the pharmacist. Afterward, the pharmacist gave her cash and oxycodone, according to the Orlando Sentinel. However, we want to make it clear that those who break the law and get caught often point the finger at innocent people, trying to divert blame from themselves.

To read the article from the Orlando Sentinel, click here.
Pharmacist Facing Charges of Trafficking in Controlled Substance.

The pharmacist faces up to 32 counts of trafficking in controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to traffic. Federal agents believe the pharmacist is part of a larger drug ring.

On the Florida Department of Health (DOH) website his license is still listed as clear/active. To see his license status, click here.

Remember, all who are name or discussed in our blog are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Representing Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Comments?

Tell us your thoughts on this story. Are federal drug agents fighting a losing battle? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Sources:

Barrett, Steve. “Avalon Park Pharmacy Owner Accused of Filling Fake Oxycodone Prescriptions.” WFTV. (November 30, 2012). From: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/dea-agents-raid-avalon-park-pharmacy/nTJbw/

Pauk, Amy. “Pharmacist Accused of Over-Dispensing Painkillers, Exchanging Pills for Sex.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 29, 2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-avalon-park-pharmacy-20121129,0,6040870.story
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.