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San Diego Neighborhood Pharmacist Pays $150,000 Penalty for Mishandling Drugs

JUN 12 (SAN DIEGO) –The former owner of a San Diego pharmacy, Alma Jean Loechler, 66, San Diego, has entered into a civil settlement agreement with the federal government and paid $147,500 this week for allegedly mishandling significant amounts of highly-addictive and frequently-abused prescription narcotics. The settlement is with Alma Jean Loechler, a licensed pharmacist and former owner of Sixth Avenue Pharmacy in Hillcrest.  The settlement arises from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation into suspected illegal activity at Sixth Avenue Pharmacy. Based on an inventory audit conducted by the DEA and other investigative activity, the United States contends that Ms. Loechler and Sixth Avenue Pharmacy committed multiple violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

“DEA will continue to make sure that its registrants are following the law,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “We have dedicated investigators who make every effort to ensure that no controlled prescription drugs are diverted from their lawful and legal use.”

The alleged violations include failing to control the pharmacy’s inventory of controlled substances, failing to maintain required records of the pharmacy’s distribution of controlled substances, and failing to account for a significant amount of controlled substances. The United States asserts that Ms. Loechler was unable to account for nearly 16,000 pills over a two-year span. The unaccounted-for pills were the powerful and highly addictive drug oxycodone, commonly known by its brand names OxyContin, Roxicodone, or Percocet.

In another instance, the government contends that Ms. Loechler violated the Controlled Substance Act by reentering into inventory approximately $30,000 worth of medication that had been returned to her by police after being stolen from the pharmacy two months earlier. Other allegations include dispensing controlled substances through invalid or absent prescriptions, exchanging drugs for services, dispensing expired drugs, and “advancing” pills to customers.

In addition to paying $147,500 in settlement of the government’s civil monetary penalty claims, following the DEA’s audit of the pharmacy, Ms. Loechler sold Sixth Avenue Pharmacy and no longer holds a DEA controlled substance registration.

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