Monday, September 15, 2008

Narcotics case a first for Nevada

From the Las Vegas Sun:
Nevada bartenders are not liable for customers who drive drunk, but should the same be true for pharmacists who provide pills to suspected drug addicts?

That’s the question in a first-of-its kind appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Patricia Copening was under the influence of hydrocodone on June 4, 2004, when she slammed her Dodge Durango into Gregory Sanchez Jr. and Robert Martinez, who had pulled over to the side of the road to fix a flat tire. Sanchez died and Martinez was severely injured.

Copening served nine months in the Clark County Detention Center for the crime. Now, the families of the two men have sued Copening, the two doctors who supplied her the pills, and seven pharmacies that dispensed her medications. The pharmacies are liable, the victims’ attorney argues, because they continued to fill prescriptions even after being notified of Copening’s drug abuse.

Nevada was among the first states to track every prescription filled in the state for the purpose of reducing drug abuse. The state tracks the date, medication type, quantity and name of the patient, prescribing doctor and pharmacy.

Almost a year before the accident, on June 24, 2003, the Prescription Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force warned all the doctors and pharmacies that had supplied Copening that she may be a drug abuser. The letter to the pharmacists did not tell them what to do, but urged them to “use their professional expertise to assist patients who may be abusing controlled substances.”...more

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