PHARMACISTS PLEAD GUILTY TO FELONY MISBRANDING OF DRUGS IN KENTWOOD PHARMACY INVESTIGATION
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – James D. Orr, 75, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Thomas N. Verhage, 68, of Kentwood, entered guilty pleas to a felony charge of misbranding drugs related to their conduct while employed as staff pharmacists at Kentwood Pharmacy. At plea hearings held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Scoville yesterday and today in Grand Rapids, Orr and Verhage acknowledged that they were aware that Kentwood Pharmacy restocked drugs that were returned from nursing homes and adult foster care homes. Orr and Verhage admitted that receiving such returned drugs and placing the returned drugs back on the stock shelves resulted in the drugs being placed into stock bottles and other containers which did not maintain the accurate lot numbers and expiration dates for the drugs. The pharmacists stated that, as staff pharmacists, they approved prescriptions that were prepared and dispensed to foster care and nursing homes. Orr acknowledged that some of the prescriptions contained drugs that he knew were returned to stock in violation of state and federal laws, including drugs that had been misbranded.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles said, “The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act provides an essential regulatory framework to safeguard the public’s use of prescription drugs. These federal regulations are buttressed by explicit state laws which strictly limit the reuse of drugs which have left the control of pharmacies. The public must be able rely on pharmacists who have both professional and statutory duties to ensure that pharmacies operate in compliance with these federal and state laws regulating the handling, packaging, and distribution of drugs.”
“Patients must have confidence that the prescription drugs they receive from pharmacies are safe and effective,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge John J. Redmond of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, Chicago Field Office. “The FDA will aggressively pursue those who cause drugs to become misbranded while held for sale, and the agency will strive to ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The investigation of this matter is ongoing and is being coordinated by the FDA, FBI, DEA, and IRS. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Beckering is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.
The investigation of this case was initiated by confidential tips. If Michigan residents or medical professionals suspect possible violations of law or other dangerous practices involving pharmacies or prescription drugs, they can contact:
the FDA at http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/criminalInvestigations/default.htm;
or the DEA at http://www.justice.gov/dea/ops/submit.shtml.