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Press Release

Former Licensed Registered Nurse Sentenced to 15 Months for Product Tampering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. - Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Dawn Drum, 54, Janesville, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 15 months in prison, 1 year of supervised release, and fined $30,000 due and payable immediately.  On May 8, 2023, Drum pleaded guilty to one count of product tampering while employed as a Registered Nurse at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville in November 2021.

Drum tampered with vials of fentanyl by withdrawing the drug from the vials and replacing it with saline and then resealing the vial stopper with what appeared to be superglue. Drum then put the tampered vials back into the Pyxis machine, an automated medication dispensing system, so that the tampered fentanyl vials would be available for use with other patients at the hospital.  An audit of the Pyxis transactions in Drum’s name revealed that she had an excessive pattern of fentanyl overrides and wastes when compared to other employees in 2021. When confronted by hospital management in November 2021 with this discrepancy, and asked to take a drug test, Drum refused and instead resigned from her position at the hospital.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Drum expressed remorse for her actions and noted that her illegal conduct was driven by her addiction to opioids. She indicated that the harm she caused to her patients by her actions will haunt her for the rest of her life.

In imposing sentence, Judge Conley told Drum that he understood that she acted out of character because of her addiction. However, he also noted that her decision to steal fentanyl, and then tamper with the vials and return them to the medication dispenser for use with patients, was the reason he was sentencing her to prison. Judge Conley explained to Drum that her actions harmed others and she needed to face the consequences for those actions.

Special Agent in Charge Ronne G. Malham, with the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Chicago Field Office, emphasized the dangers caused by this type of crime, “Health care professionals who tamper with medications from patients not only harm patients but also put at risk the trust that U.S. consumers have in those who provide their medical care. We will continue to investigate and bring to justice health care professionals who tamper with patients’ medications.”

The charges against Drum were the result of an investigation conducted by the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Control Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Graber handled the prosecution of the case.

Updated September 14, 2023