San Antonio pharmacy unlawfully ignored ‘red flags,’ dispensed opioids, feds allege

Justice Department seeks permanent injunction against Rite-Away Pharmacy and Medical Supply #2

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (Mark Lennihan, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – A pharmacy on the city’s South Side unlawfully dispensed opioids and other controlled substances, federal officials said in a civil complaint filed Friday.

According to a complaint filed in San Antonio by the Justice Department for the Western District of Texas, Jitendra Chaudhary, the pharmacist-in-charge and part owner of Rite-Away Pharmacy and Medical Supply #2, unlawfully filled controlled substance prescriptions at Rite-Away in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The complaint alleges that Chaudhary and Rite-Away ignored numerous “red flags,” or obvious signs of abuse or diversion, when filling opioid prescriptions. The complaint further alleges that one patient died from toxic effects of fentanyl nine days after Rite-Away filled her prescription for that drug.

The complaint alleges that by ignoring signs of abuse and diversion, the defendants illegally filled controlled substance prescriptions outside the usual course of professional pharmacy practice and filled prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose, a news release said. The complaint also accuses the defendants of altering prescriptions that lacked required information in order to make them appear to be in compliance with DEA regulations.

“Pharmacies and pharmacists have an important responsibility to help stop the illegal distribution of controlled substances,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in a statement. “The department will work with its law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who fill opioid prescriptions in violation of the law.”

“As pharmacists, the defendants had a legal obligation to ensure controlled substance prescriptions are prescribed for legitimate medical purposes before being sold and distributed to patients,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas said in a statement. “Their choice to repeatedly ignore signs of abuse and diversion when dispensing opioids is a failure to meet this duty at the expense of patient health. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will use those resources available to stop pharmacies and pharmacists from avoiding their responsibilities amidst the opioid crisis.”

The complaint seeks civil penalties as well as a permanent injunction to prevent further violations.

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