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Press Release

Federal Court Orders San Antonio-Area Pharmacy and Pharmacist to Pay $275,000 Civil Penalty in Case Alleging Unlawful Opioid Distribution

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal court in Texas ordered a San Antonio pharmacy and its pharmacist to pay a $275,000 civil penalty and imposed restrictions related to the dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances.

Pursuant to an agreed consent judgment and permanent injunction, the court enjoined Zarzamora Healthcare LLC, doing business as Rite-Away Pharmacy & Medical Supply #2, along with pharmacist-owner Jitendra Chaudhary, from dispensing certain opioid prescriptions, including combination opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. The order also mandates that the defendants undergo periodic comprehensive reviews of their dispensing practices to ensure compliance with the order and the Controlled Substances Act.

The order resolves a civil complaint the government filed on Jan. 21, 2022, in the Western District of Texas. The complaint alleged that the defendants repeatedly dispensed opioids and other controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act by filling prescriptions while ignoring “red flags” – that is, obvious indications that the prescriptions were not for any legitimate medical use. The complaint also alleged that the defendants altered prescriptions that lacked required information in order to make them appear to be in compliance with DEA regulations.

“The Controlled Substances Act requires pharmacies and pharmacists to ensure that opioids are dispensed for medically legitimate purposes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable professionals who flout their obligations regarding potentially dangerous prescription drugs.”

“The distribution of opioids and other prescription drugs by healthcare practitioners throughout the country has caused immense harm to our communities over the years,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas. “My office takes this issue very seriously and will litigate against healthcare professionals when warranted.”

“A pharmacist must resolve all “red flags” before the dispensation of any prescription drugs,” said Special Agent in Charge Daniel Comeaux of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Houston Division. “If the requirements of a proper prescription are not met, the men and women of the DEA Diversion Control Division are always ready to hold these pharmacists accountable .”

U.S. District Judge Jason K. Pulliam entered the consent decree in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The DEA’s San Antonio District Office Tactical Diversion Squad investigated the case.

The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Van De Walle for the Western District of Texas and Trial Attorneys Scott Dahlquist and Ryan Norman of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

Claims made in a complaint are merely allegations that the United States must prove if a case proceeds to trial. The claims resolved by the injunction announced today are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Updated October 12, 2023

Topics
Consumer Protection
Opioids
Press Release Number: 23-1119