A federal court in Ohio ordered a Toledo pharmacy and two of its pharmacists to pay a $375,000 civil penalty and imposed restrictions related to the dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances.
Pursuant to an agreed consent judgment and permanent injunction, the court enjoined Shaffer Pharmacy, along with pharmacist-owner Thomas Tadsen and pharmacist Wilson Bunton, from dispensing certain opioid prescriptions, including combination opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. The order also mandates that the defendants undergo periodic comprehensive reviews of their dispensing practices to ensure compliance with the order and the Controlled Substances Act. The consent decree resolves a civil complaint the government filed on Jan. 6, 2021, in the Northern District of Ohio. The complaint alleged that the defendants repeatedly dispensed opioids and other controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act by ignoring “red flags” – that is, obvious indications of drug diversion and drug-seeking behavior.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists must abide by the Controlled Substances Act and take active steps to ensure opioids are dispensed based on medical legitimacy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to working closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration to combat the opioid addiction crisis.”
“With opioid abuse and overdose deaths again on the rise in the Northern District of Ohio, we must remain vigilant in our prevention efforts and in holding those in the medical profession accountable when they are alleged to be unlawfully prescribing or dispensing opioids,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan for the Northern District of Ohio. “We will continue to utilize all of our available enforcement options to address this threat and those who are alleged to be engaged in these unlawful practices.”
The investigation was conducted by the DEA, FBI, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Fitzgerald and Angelita Cruz Bridges of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorneys Scott Dahlquist and Maryann McGuire of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.