The United States filed a civil complaint today seeking to permanently enjoin the owner of a San Antonio-area pharmacy from unlawfully dispensing opioids and other controlled substances.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the government alleges that Jitendra Chaudhary, the pharmacist-in-charge and part owner of Rite-Away Pharmacy and Medical Supply #2, unlawfully filled controlled substance prescriptions at Rite-Away in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The complaint alleges that Chaudhary and Rite-Away ignored numerous “red flags,” or obvious signs of abuse or diversion, when filling opioid prescriptions. The complaint further alleges that one patient died from toxic effects of fentanyl nine days after Rite-Away filled her prescription for that drug.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists have an important responsibility to help stop the illegal distribution of controlled substances,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department will work with its law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who fill opioid prescriptions in violation of the law.”
“As pharmacists, the defendants had a legal obligation to ensure controlled substance prescriptions are prescribed for legitimate medical purposes before being sold and distributed to patients,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas. “Their choice to repeatedly ignore signs of abuse and diversion when dispensing opioids is a failure to meet this duty at the expense of patient health. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will use those resources available to stop pharmacies and pharmacists from avoiding their responsibilities amidst the opioid crisis.”
The complaint alleges that by ignoring signs of abuse and diversion, the defendants illegally filled controlled substance prescriptions outside the usual course of professional pharmacy practice and filled prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose. The complaint further alleges that the defendants altered prescriptions that lacked required information in order to make them appear to be in compliance with DEA regulations. The complaint seeks civil penalties as well as a permanent injunction to prevent further violations.
The claims made in the complaint are merely allegations that the United States must prove if the case proceeds to trial.
DEA’s San Antonio District Office is conducting the ongoing investigation.
The case is being handled by Trial Attorneys Scott Dahlquist and Ryan Norman of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Van De Walle for the Western District of Texas.