CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston announced today that Jawed Ali Khan Sherwani, Beckley Pharmacy and Bee Well Pharmacy have agreed to pay $300,000 in civil monetary penalties to resolve allegations that the pharmacies violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) by filling illegitimate prescriptions. Beckley Pharmacy has two locations in the Beckley, West Virginia area. Bee Well Pharmacy is located in South Charleston, West Virginia. Sherwani is a pharmacist who owns and operates the pharmacies. The settlement provides that from on or about March 1, 2015 to in or about March 2020, both Beckley Pharmacy locations and Bee Well Pharmacy violated the CSA by filling prescriptions the pharmacies knew or should have known were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose. Bee Well Pharmacy also agreed to surrender its Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration which will result in the pharmacy being unable to fill prescriptions for controlled substances. As part of the settlement, Beckley Pharmacy has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with DEA which imposes heightened regulatory and reporting obligations but will allow both Beckley Pharmacy locations to retain their respective DEA registrations. The CSA prohibits the distribution or dispensing of a controlled substance without a valid prescription. A valid prescription for a controlled substance must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his or her practice. Based on the investigation, the United States maintains that the pharmacists at the Beckley Pharmacy locations and Bee Well Pharmacy knew or had reason to know that patients had presented illegitimate prescriptions that should not have been filled.
“There has been a tremendous amount of damage caused by prescription drug abuse in the Southern District of West Virginia,” said Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston. “In response, we have made it a priority to target different components of the opioid supply chain for their contributing roles to the crisis. Pharmacies must keep accurate records and maintain strong controls when handling controlled substances. Those that fail to do so open the door to the potential diversion of drugs, the illegal distribution, and abuse of these drugs.”
Assistant United States Attorneys Alan G. McGonigal and Gregory P. Neil handled the case. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Group and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) investigated the case.
Congress passed the CSA to combat the illegal distribution and abuse of controlled substances, including prescription medications. Under the CSA, entities registered with the DEA who purchase, distribute, dispense, transfer or sell controlled substances must comply with strict inventory and documentation requirements. Regulations promulgated under the CSA require that each DEA registrant, including pharmacies, maintain complete and accurate records of each substance manufactured, received, sold, delivered, dispensed or otherwise disposed of by the registrant for two years. These requirements play a vital role in ensuring the appropriate handling, accounting and distribution of controlled substances.
The settlement is a result of the United States Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Abuse, Recovery and Response Team (ARREST), an innovative approach linking civil and criminal enforcement efforts together in a comprehensive attack on the opioid epidemic and healthcare fraud.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.