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Court asks Indian-American pharmacist to pay $275k for unlawful opioid distribution

New York, Oct 12 (IANS) A court in Texas has ordered an Indian-origin man and his pharmacy to pay $275,000 civil penalty and imposed restrictions related to the dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances.

Pharmacist Jitendra Chaudhary owned Zarzamora Healthcare LLC, which was doing business as Rite-Away Pharmacy & Medical Supply in San Antonio, according to a Department of Justice release.

Pursuant to an agreed consent judgment and permanent injunction, the court enjoined Chaudhary and his pharmacy from dispensing certain opioid prescriptions, including combination opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions.

The order also mandated that the defendants undergo periodic comprehensive reviews of their dispensing practices to ensure compliance with the order and the Controlled Substances Act.

“The distribution of opioids and other prescription drugs by healthcare practitioners throughout the country has caused immense harm to our communities over the years,” said US Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas.

“My office takes this issue very seriously and will litigate against healthcare professionals when warranted,” Esparza added.

A civil complaint filed by the government in the Western District of Texas on January 21, 2022 alleged that the defendants repeatedly dispensed opioids and other controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

They did this by filling prescriptions while ignoring “red flags” — that is, obvious indications that the prescriptions were not for any legitimate medical use.

The complaint also alleged that the defendants altered prescriptions that lacked required information in order to make them appear to be in compliance with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations.

“The Controlled Substances Act requires pharmacies and pharmacists to ensure that opioids are dispensed for medically legitimate purposes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable professionals who flout their obligations regarding potentially dangerous prescription drugs.”

The case was investigated by the DEA’s San Antonio District Office Tactical Diversion Squad.

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