An Ohio federal court issued an injunction ordering a Toledo, Ohio pharmacy and two of its pharmacists to dispense opioids and other controlled substances, the Justice Department said today.
In a civil lawsuit filed January 6, 2021 and unsealed in the northern district of Ohio on January 14, 2021, the United States alleges that Shaffer Pharmacy, its pharmacy owner Thomas Tadsen, and pharmacist Wilson Bunton repeatedly dispense opioids and other controlled drugs have substances that violate the law on regulated substances. The complaint alleges that the defendants have been dispensing highly addictive and highly abused prescription opioids over a period of several years, ignoring “red flags” – obvious indications of drug diversion and drug addiction. US District Judge Jack Zouhary granted the government’s motion for a restraining order that was filed with the complaint.
“Federal law requires pharmacists to ensure that the controlled substance prescriptions they fill out are medically legitimate,” said Assistant Attorney General Jennifer B. Dickey of the Department of Justice’s civil division. “The Justice Department will continue to work with the DEA and our law enforcement partners to tackle the opioid crisis by holding accountable pharmacies that are giving up their commitments.”
“The illicit prescribing or dispensing of narcotics by medical personnel is only to worsen the opioid epidemic in North Ohio and increase the number of overdose deaths in our community,” said acting US attorney Bridget M. Brennan for the Northern District of Ohio. “Allegations of misuse of prescriptions remain a priority for this office and offenders should face serious consequences.”
“Controlled substance delivery is a privilege that requires compliance with the law,” said Keith Martin, special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “DEA is committed to ensuring that those who are committed to complying with our country’s drug laws live up to that responsibility.”
“We continue to face an uphill battle against substance abuse and addiction, and it is unthinkable that a licensed provider could contribute to this growing epidemic,” said Eric B. Smith of the FBI, Cleveland Division, special agent in charge. “Restricting these defendants’ ability to continue filling out prescriptions without medical necessity is an important step. The FBI will continue its efforts to identify and hold accountable any doctor who violates his or her legal obligation not to cause harm to criminal misconduct. “
The complaint alleges that the defendants failed to take the necessary steps to resolve the red flags and ensure the legitimacy of prescriptions prior to completing them. According to court records, the prescriptions submitted by the defendants often concerned heavily abused opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, buprenorphine and fentanyl, often in dangerous combination with other prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines (i.e. sedatives indicated for the treatment of anxiety disorders such as) Xanax) and muscle relaxants (e.g. carisoprodol, also known under the brand name Soma). The complaint seeks civil sanctions and a permanent injunction against the accused.
The allegations made in the complaint are merely allegations that the United States must prove if the case is brought to justice.
The United States will be represented by U.S. Assistant Attorneys Patricia Fitzgerald and Angelita Cruz Bridges for the Northern District of Ohio, and trial attorneys Scott Dahlquist and Maryann McGuire of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Division. This investigation is being conducted by the DEA, the FBI, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.