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US Pharmacy dispensed hundreds of opioids to one family in North Carolina, feds say

21:30  04 february  2020
21:30  04 february  2020 Source:   newsobserver.com

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina pharmacy that filled hundreds of prescriptions for one family is banned from dispensing drugs, officials say.

Robert L. Crocker, owner of Farmville Discount Drug, also has to give up his license as a pharmacist after ignoring “red flags” for distributing powerful painkillers, federal prosecutors said Monday in a news release.

The court orders focus on Crocker’s business in Farmville, a town in Pitt County and roughly 70 miles southeast of Raleigh.

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Prosecutors say the pharmacist looked past warning signs of “drug-seeking behavior” when he filled prescriptions for pain medications, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Other medications he dispensed could be used to enhance the impacts of opioids, according to the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Farmville Discount Drug is accused of serving patients who went “from doctor to doctor” or drove about an hour to get there.

The business also filled “hundreds of opioid prescriptions for multiple members of the same family under highly suspicious circumstances,” according to a complaint filed last week in federal court.

In one case, the pharmacy distributed thousands of potent opioid pills to a person who lived about 60 miles away, according to prosecutors. At the same time, the business filled dozens of prescriptions for someone with the same last name and address, the Eastern District news release said.

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Now, Crocker and Farmville Discount Drug have to pay civil penalties totaling $600,000, according to a federal consent order.

Prosecutors say the two parties agreed to settle their case and “entered a consent order ensuring” they will “never dispense opioids or other controlled substances again.”

The outcome happens as about 130 people die each day after opioid overdoses in the United States, the National Institutes of Health reported last year.

U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon said the recent court order shows his office is committed to holding wrongdoers accountable, according to the news release.

“As the last line of defense between these dangerously addictive substances and our communities, pharmacists and pharmacies play a critical role in stemming the tide of the opioid epidemic,” he said in the release. “The turn-a-blind-eye approach to pharmacy practice on display at Farmville Discount Drug did just the opposite; it made matters worse.”

No business with the name Farmville Discount Drug was listed on the N.C. Board of Pharmacy website as of Tuesday afternoon. A pharmacy at the same address has been closed since Aug. 22 and didn’t face discipline, records show.

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