A former San Diego neighborhood pharmacist must pay $147,500 for allegedly mishandling powerful and highly addictive prescription narcotics, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced this week.
A Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation revealed suspected illegal activity at the Sixth Avenue Pharmacy in Hillcrest, owned by licensed pharmacist Alma Jean Loechler, 66.
After an inventory audit, DEA officials say Loechler could not account for nearly 16,000 oxycodone pills over a two-year span. The painkiller is more commonly known by its brand names: OxyContin, Roxicodone and Percocet.
In another incident, police returned about $30,000 worth of medication that had been stolen from the pharmacy two months earlier. Prosecutors allege that Loechler reentered those drugs into her inventory, violating the Controlled Substance Act.
Loechler is accused of dispensing controlled substances through invalid or absent prescriptions, exchanging drugs for services, dispensing expired drugs, “advancing” pills to customers. Investigators say she also failed to control the pharmacy’s inventory, maintain record of distribution or account for a significant amount of controlled substances.
The federal government brought a civil case against Loechler, seeking monetary penalty claims.
As part of the settlement, Loechler was forced to sell Sixth Avenue Pharmacy and lost her DEA controlled substance registration, on top of paying the $147,500 penalty.
However, the agreement is not an admission of liability by Loechler or a concession by the government that its claims were not valid.