Judge reinstates pharmacy license of former state senator

December 29, 2014

A judge has reinstated the pharmacy license of a former Rhode Island state senator who mistakenly gave morphine to an infant and a toddler.

A judge has reinstated the pharmacy license of a former Rhode Island state senator who mistakenly gave morphine to an infant and a toddler.

In 2013, Rhode Island State Health Director Michael Fine permanently revoked the pharmacy license of Leo Blais, a former Republican state senator who previously served for 12 years on the state Board of Pharmacy.

Drug Topics’ Stories of the Year

“I find it troubling that a judge can overrule a safe, smart decision from the director of the Department of Health, who is ultimately responsible for the health of all Rhode Islanders,” Jeffrey Norman, whose 11-month-old daughter received a prescription for omeprazole that contained morphine, told the Providence Journal

Blais was the pharmacist in charge at the pharmacy and the verifying pharmacist for the prescription. A second child was also given a prescription that mistakenly included morphine.

Subsequently, pharmacy inspectors found that the compounding areas at the pharmacy where Blais worked were disorganized and disheveled. In announcing Blais’ license revocation, Fine said: “I no longer have confidence that Mr. Blais can properly practice pharmacy in a way that properly safeguards public health.”

However, Judge Stephen P. Nugent ruled that Fine exceeded his authority and that his actions were an abuse of discretion. He also ruled that there was no evidence that Blais was deficient in many or most areas of the practice of pharmacy.

“Where a hearing officer is able to examine evidence and live testimony first-hand, the law accords more weight to his or her findings than to a reviewing administrative official,” Judge Nugent wrote.

In a separate case in 1999 involving Blais, he admitted having outdated and mislabeled medications in his pharmacy.