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The Iowa pharmacy board suspended the license of a Dubuque community pharmacy accused of illegally filling controlled substance prescriptions for an Internet site.
The Iowa board of pharmacy suspended the license of a community pharmacy accused of improperly filling prescriptions for an off-shore Internet company peddling narcotic painkillers and weight-loss drugs based on patient questionnaires.
Accompanied by members of the Dubuque Drug Task Force and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, pharmacy board inspectors closed down Union Family Pharmacy on Sept. 12. The owner of the pharmacy license faced an Oct. 8 board hearing to answer a 13-count statement of charges prepared by the board's executive director Lloyd Jessen. The wide-ranging charges included delivering Rx drugs without proper legal authorization, dispensing controlled substances without complete patient information or prospective drug review, failure to determine whether an authorized prescriber wrote the scripts for a legitimate medical purpose, and failure to maintain records.
The owner of the shuttered pharmacy could not be reached for comment. The pharmacy board took no action against the licenses of the pharmacist-in-charge or the owner, who is also a pharmacist.
Discovery of the pharmacy's Internet filling operation grew out of a board investigation into allegations of drug diversion, Jessen said. As a result, inspectors found that from Aug. 19 to Sept. 9, the pharmacy filled about 4,750 scripts for buymeds.com. Nearly all of the Rxs were for Schedule III and IV controlled substances, including hydrocodone and phentermine. He added that the Internet Rxs were dispensed by techs without proper R.Ph. supervision. Most of the scripts were allegedly written electronically by four Florida physicians based on patient information in on-line questionnaires. In addition, a preliminary pharmacy audit turned up shortages of some Schedule II drugs.
"This is the first Internet pharmacy case in Iowa," said Jessen. "But it's our understanding that there are other pharmacies working with that Web site, and they're all being scrutinized very closely."
Carol Ukens. Iowa board shuts pharmacy filling Internet scripts. Drug Topics Oct. 20, 2003;147:24.