Manhattan U.S. Attorney Recovers $200,000 In Civil Penalties From Upper East Side Pharmacy That Violated The Controlled Substances Act
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today that the United States has settled a civil lawsuit against MADISON AVENUE PHARMACY (“MADISON AVENUE”), a retail pharmacy on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and RICHARD SCHIRRIPA, the pharmacy owner and a licensed pharmacist. Under the settlement, MADISON AVENUE and SCHIRRIPA admitted and accepted responsibility for numerous violations of the Controlled Substances Act, and agreed to pay $200,000 in penalties and to implement enhanced compliance procedures. The settlement agreement, in the form of a consent order, was approved yesterday in Manhattan federal court by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in this country, and retail pharmacists who fail to fulfill their legal obligation to responsibly keep account of these dangerous drugs enable further abuse. As the settlement against Richard Schirripa and Madison Avenue Pharmacy shows, this Office will not tolerate professionals who disregard the drug laws.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Brian R. Crowell said: "DEA Diversion Investigators are the nationwide auditors of our pharmacies, which are mandated to adhere to strict compliance procedures, especially the oversight of addictive pain medications. In New York City, the number of painkiller-related emergency room visits increased over the past decade by 143%, and as the number of overdose deaths and hospital visits has climbed throughout the last five years, it is imperative that pharmacies maintain accountability by keeping accurate records and report any loss immediately to prevent highly addictive medications from falling into the wrong hands."
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint:
Following an employee theft of OxyContin at MADISON AVENUE in June 2009, a DEA audit in July 2009 discovered that SCHIRRIPA had failed to report the theft in a timely manner. The DEA also found that MADISON AVENUE and SCHIRRIPA were not maintaining a complete and accurate inventory of OxyContin, and had failed to adhere to a number of other record-keeping provisions required under the CSA. Oxycontin is a brand name of time-released oral Oxycodone, which is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance under the CSA.
In the settlement agreement approved today, MADISON AVENUE and SCHIRRIPA “admit, acknowledge, and accept responsibility” for the following violations of the CSA: SCHIRRIPA allowed dispensing pharmacists at MADISON AVENUE to order Schedule II controlled substances using his private access key, rather than requiring them to obtain and use their own keys; he and the pharmacy did not utilize the relevant software to electronically reconcile orders of Schedule II controlled substances; MADISON AVENUE was not maintaining a complete and accurate record of the pharmacy’s supply of OxyContin at the time of the DEA audit; SCHIRRIPA and MADISON AVENUE failed to conduct a timely biennial inventory in 2009; and they did not timely report the loss of OxyContin to the DEA.
MADISON AVENUE and SCHIRRIPA agreed to pay $200,000 in civil penalties to the United States and agreed to implement enhanced compliance procedures, including the retention of a compliance officer approved by the DEA, the creation of a comprehensive compliance plan, and the furnishing of inventory reports and certifications to the DEA every six months for a period of five years.
Mr. Bharara praised the DEA for its work on this case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristine Irvin Phillips and Louis A. Pellegrino are in charge of the case.