Independent Pharmacy Sued Over Fentanyl Overdose Death

February 21, 2017

A pharmacy in Pennsylvania allowed a man to pick up his mother's prescription for fentanyl after being told not to allow it, with tragic results.

The father of a man who fatally overdosed on the painkiller fentanyl has filed a lawsuit against an independent pharmacy, blaming it for his son’s death.

Dale Albert alleges that Sheeley’s Drug Store in Scranton, PA, is responsible for the death of his 21-year-old son, Cody Albert, because the pharmacy allowed a man to pick up fentanyl patches that were intended for that man’s mother. The man gave one of the patches to Cody, according to a Times-Tribunearticle.

Neither Sheeley’s Drug Store nor Albert’s attorney, Michael Shaffer, returned calls from Drug Topics.

According to the complaint filed in Lackawanna County Court, Sheeley’s was warned not to allow Zachary Ross, 21, to pick up the fentanyl patches, which were prescribed for his mother who has cancer, but a pharmacy employee ignored that directive and gave him the patches.

Ross picked up the fentanyl patches from the pharmacy last March, and then shared them with Cody Albert, who suffered a seizure and died after chewing on the fentanyl patch, according to the article. According to the suit, Ross’s mother and sister had called Sheeley’s Drug and told the pharmacy not to let her son pick up her prescriptions after they realized her son was taking her pain medications. However, a pharmacy employee allegedly allowed Ross to pick up the fentanyl without showing valid identification. Cody Albert had been complaining of flu-like symptoms. Ross told him to chew the fentanyl patch and that it would help him feel better, according to the suit. Cody’s autopsy showed that he died from a fentanyl overdose, according to the Times-Tribune.

Ross is awaiting trial in county court on charges including “drug delivery resulting in death”.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Lori Hart, owner of Sheeley’s Drug Store, told the Times-Tribune. “We are saddened by the news. ... It’s in the hands of our attorneys now.” However, Hart denied the pharmacy was negligent for Cody Albert’s death. The pharmacy’s policy allows family members to pick up prescriptions for each other, as long as they have been given permission, she said.

Fentanyl, the potent synthetic opioid, has reignited the opioid overdose epidemic, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Deaths from synthetic opioids soared 79% to 5,544 in 2014. About 129 people died each day in 2014 as a result of drug poisoning, the agency said in a report.