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State fines, revokes Hanover pharmacist’s license after prescription pill probe

Posted on Friday, April 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

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A Hanover County pharmacist illegally dispensed thousands of narcotic prescription pills to out-of-state “patients” from his pharmacy in Beaverdam, the state attorney general’s office has charged.

In a statement, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said the Board of Pharmacy had revoked the license of Douglas Harris, the owner and former pharmacist-in-charge of the Beaverdam Pharmacy, and fined him $15,000.

Harris, Herring’s office said, illegally dispensed tens of thousands of opioid pills between March 29, 2012 and April 3, 2013. A review of prescription records showed that Beaverdam Pharmacy filled 338 prescriptions for Schedule II through IV medications in significant quantities, including oxycodone, hydromorphone, and benzodiazepines such as clonazepam, to 55 patients from Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.

The patients had prescriptions written by physicians in Georgia and Florida who were themselves being investigated and subsequently either had their license suspended or surrendered it for inappropriate prescribing of opioid medication, Herring’s office said.

The case was investigated by the Enforcement Division of the Virginia Department of Health Professions with assistance from the Richmond office of the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Senior Assistant Attorney General Wayne Halbleib prosecuted the case before the board on behalf of the commonwealth.

Herring said that during his recent public safety tour, officials across the state reported that prescription drugs were becoming an increasing gateway to opiate addition, helping to fuel the resurgence of heroin use across the nation.

“Prescription drug abuse is an emerging problem in far too many of our communities and I will not allow unscrupulous pharmacists to make these potentially addictive drugs even easier to access,” Herring said. “Education, prevention and treatment will be important parts of our response, but my Office will do all it can to keep these dangerous drugs, and those who distribute them, off the streets.”