Sunday, March 01, 2009

Wash. pharmacist put old drugs back in supply

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
The pharmacist at TOP Food and Drug in suburban Edmonds seemed like an excellent employee.

Friendly and helpful to the customers, he even ran a collection drive, asking people to bring back any unused prescriptions so he could donate the medicine to Third World countries.

Instead, he put much of that medicine back in the pharmacy's supply - even if its expiration date had passed - thus improving the store's profits while masking that he was also skimming thousands of dollars in copayments and other transactions.

The now-former pharmacist, Milton Cheung, will be sentenced Friday after admitting his conduct in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors last fall. The government and Cheung's attorney agreed to recommend a 15-month sentence, while the pharmacy's parent company, Bellingham-based Haggen Inc., has agreed to create a compliance program to improve record-keeping at all its pharmacies.

"Customers were never advised that they were receiving expired and adulterated drugs," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Friedman wrote in a memo to the court. "And while there are no reports of adverse patient reaction, Cheung had no right to expose the public to the risk of product tampering, bacteria and other market adulteration inherent in his scheme." ...more

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