Justice Department files first action to stop Tennessee pharmacies' unlawful opioid dispensing

Posted at 11:47 AM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 12:47:28-05

CELENA, Tenn. (WTVF) — A civil complaint unsealed today focused on allegations of high-risk dispensing practices by three Celina, Tennessee pharmacies.

Oakley Pharmacy, Dale Hollow Pharmacy and Xpress Pharmacy of Clay County, their owner Thomas Weir, and their pharmacists John Polston, Michael Griffith and Larry Larkin are accused of dispensing and billing Medicare for prescriptions in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and the False Claims Act.

The acts of these pharmacists have been linked to the deaths of at least two people and a number of serious overdoses of others who have been treated at hospitals within a short time of obtaining controlled substances for pharmacies.

In the civil complaint, it is alleged that the pharmacies and pharmacists filled a number of prescriptions for controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and in violation of the pharmacists responsibility to ensure that prescriptions are given to those who need them.

It is alleged that the pharmacists ignored many blatant warning signs of diversion and abuse in patients.

“The opioid epidemic has been devastating for Tennessee and neighboring states,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the HHS Office of Inspector General. “Physicians and pharmacists have a dual responsibility to ensure that these medications are only prescribed and dispensed when they are medically necessary.”

*A complaint is merely an allegation and there has been no determination of liability.