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Local Rite Aid at Heart of Major Investigation

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

More information continues to pour in about a major pharmacy chain accused of knowingly selling prescription drugs to people it shouldn't have. We're learning the biggest violation may have been in Lexington.

Federal investigators say they have settled a case involving dozens of Rite Aids in eight different states, including Kentucky.

Across the country there were 16,000 violations at the Rite Aids in question, but most of those violations came from the Rite Aid in Lexington located on South Broadway.

The Bluegrass Weight Loss Center was the center on Waller Avenue calling in the diet drug prescriptions. It was owned by a Georgia physician who briefly lived in Lexington. When he left the state he continued to keep the business open, but that changed several years ago when he lost his license to practice in Kentucky.

The U.S. Attorney's Office began looking at the doctor.

"And also at the number of prescriptions of phentermine that had come out of his office", says Robin Gwinn, an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

What they found was a lot of people were being prescribed the drug. The prescriptions were being called into the Lexington Rite Aid on South Broadway.

"They had four, five, or ten people coming into the pharmacy at the same time with the prescription so we felt like it was more of a pill mill going on with the diet center", says Robin Gwinn.

They found the person prescribing the drug wasn't even a valid doctor.

"They weren't meeting with patients, there was no oversight of patients, and so prescriptions phoned to the pharmacy were not valid prescriptions", says Robin Gwinn.

Since the Rite Aid was filling the prescriptions, they were in violation. This investigation revealed they filled at least 12,600 illegal prescriptions. Federal investigators hope it will send a message.

"Pharmacists and pharmacies have the responsibility to ensure the prescriptions coming in are legitimate", says Robin Gwinn.

The case here in Lexington is also being investigated at a state level, so at this time they can't say what happened to the employees who did fill those illegal prescriptions.

There are stipulations that all Rite Aids must now follow due to all of these violations that have come out. This includes a tracking system at all stores nationwide for psuedoephedine and ephedrine, so they'll know who is buying the drug to prevent abuse.

The Rite Aid corporations must now pay five million dollars in civil penalties to settle all the violations they face nationwide.


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