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$30,000 CIVIL PENALTY SETTLEMENT REACHED WITH PEPPERELL PHARMACY FOR IMPROPER HANDLING OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND LAX SECURITY

January 6, 2011

BOSTON Mass. - The United States has reached a settlement with PEPPERELL PHARMACY (“PEPPERELL”) and its owner, TRACIE EZZIO, in connection with civil drug diversion allegations investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and the Office of the United States Attorney. Based upon facts developed in the course of the investigation, the United States contended that PEPPERELL failed to maintain proper records and inventories with respect to controlled substances in the pharmacy’s possession, failed to report thefts of controlled substances, and failed to put in place adequate security measures, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The substances involved included oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, all of which are Schedule II and III painkillers subject to strict regulatory handling and record keeping requirements.

PEPPERELL and EZZIO have agreed to pay $30,000 in settlement of the United States’ claims, without admitting wrongdoing or liability. In addition, under the terms of the agreement, PEPPERELL will institute additional physical security measures, including active video surveillance, and will be subject to specified monetary penalties if these measures are not continued in the future. The pharmacy has also agreed to unannounced inspections by the DEA to ensure compliance.

“Controlled substances that are handled by pharmacies are subject to strict requirements because of their potential for harm and abuse,” stated U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “This Office takes the mishandling of prescription drugs very seriously, and will continue to seek all appropriate remedies to ensure that pharmacies and providers abide by their obligations in handling powerful painkillers.”

U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration - Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The investigation leading to the settlement was conducted by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of investigators from the DEA, as well as the Burlington, North Andover, Plainville, Wellesley, Westborough, Douglas and Worcester police departments. The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha, of Ortiz’s Civil Division.

 

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