VA Board: 50,000+ painkiller pills stolen from Westbury Pharmacy - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

VA Board: 50,000+ painkiller pills stolen from Westbury Pharmacy

The State Board of Pharmacy confirms it shut down Westbury Pharmacy on Friday. (Source: NBC12) The State Board of Pharmacy confirms it shut down Westbury Pharmacy on Friday. (Source: NBC12)
The State Board of Pharmacy confirms it shut down Westbury Pharmacy on Friday. (Source: NBC12) The State Board of Pharmacy confirms it shut down Westbury Pharmacy on Friday. (Source: NBC12)
Westbury Pharmacy released a statement on Friday regarding the closure of the prescription department (Source: NBC12) Westbury Pharmacy released a statement on Friday regarding the closure of the prescription department (Source: NBC12)
HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

The State Board of Pharmacy confirms it shut down Westbury Pharmacy on Friday due in part to the theft of more than 50,000 tablets of controlled drugs like Oxycodone, Methadone and Hydrocodone by an employee.

The doors of the Henrico store were locked on Friday, with only investigators seen entering the building. A sign on the door said the closure is only temporary and sources say they've been told to expect the prescription department to remain closed for four to six weeks.

A statement from the pharmacy tied the closure to a janitor who the store says stole a large amount of pain medications from the pharmacy more than a year ago. The statement says the janitor pleaded guilty and the pharmacy says it has worked to correct a series of issues raised in the board's investigation of the prescription department.

"We have cooperated with the Board of Pharmacy during its entire investigation, changed our management, restructured our operations, and implemented a comprehensive corrective action plan," the statement reads. "We are surprised and dismayed that the Board has temporarily shut down our prescription department. Safeguarding the health of our patients and serving this community have always been our highest priorities."

The board of pharmacy says drug audits in 2012 and 2014 found an employee stole more than 50,000 tablets of controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone. It also says the pharmacy didn't securely store the drugs. The tablets could be taken from the storage cabinet even when it was locked, the access code to the alarm system and key were posted on the alarm control panel and the alarm was repeatedly not activated, according to the board. The alarm deactivations came in January and February 2015.

The executive director of the board also cited violations of testing, record keeping and inventory regulations in her report to the board. The findings were presented by Attorney General Mark Herring to the board prior to Friday's closure.

Four surprise inspections in May 2014 and February 2015, along with a May 2014 drug audit raised concerns about "the pharmacy's ability to assure the quality, sterility, integrity, safety and efficacy of drugs dispensed, along with its ability to safeguard against the diversion of drugs," the board wrote.

"These deficiencies included issues with drug storage and security which may have contributed to a loss of over 50,000 tablets of controlled substances; medications in the pharmacy's drug stock that were expired or mislabeled; medications that were unlabeled or without expiration dates; bottles containing medications from two different manufacturers; and bottles with pills in excess of the amount listed on the label," according to the board.

The board also found deficiencies in the compounding of sterile products and fraudulent billing activities. The board is scheduled to conduct a formal hearing on May 29 about the issues.

The board says it is not aware of anyone suffering any injury or complications due to the errors, but asks all patients to talk to their prescriber or pharmacist about any concerns with medications obtained from Westbury Pharmacy.

The sudden closure of Westbury Pharmacy Friday has left many of its customers with a whole lot of questions. Many showed up all day looking to pick up or have their prescriptions filled.

It's not the greeting Chris Brightly was expecting.

"Apparently there's something going on here. I can't get my prescription...I came over here specifically because it's closer to my doctor and it's where I fill my prescriptions,” he said.

Instead, he was turned away at the door. He's not alone.

"My grandparents, my great grandparents and I even go here to pick up my prescriptions,” said Jacob Coleman.

Now he's being greeted with a sign confirming a state investigation is underway.

Westbury Pharmacy is telling customers those with prescriptions can still have them filled, but they'll have to travel to the Westwood Pharmacy. That's a few miles away in the Libbie Shopping Center.

The serious allegations of missing medicine have customers at a loss for words.

"I really can't believe it..It's a fixture. It's a landmark here, a local place that everyone comes,” said Bill Neal.

"They've always been good. I've been coming here 25 years or so,” said another customer walking away.

"If there's a technical problem, they've got to straighten it out ASAP,” David Hammock added.

As Westbury prepares for hearings with the state board next month, folks like Brightly who are used to coming here - will have to head somewhere else for now.

"A bit of an inconvenience. Makes me wonder what's going on here,” he said.

A source close to the situation tells NBC 12, employees were told the pharmacy should only be shut down four to six weeks. There's also a restaurant and gift shop that closed Friday. A sign on the door says the restaurant will re-open Saturday.

Patients should contact Westwood Pharmacy at (804) 288-1933 to refill existing prescriptions or to request transfer of their prescription to a pharmacy of their choice.

Prescriptions for hospice patients which will be transferred to Rx3 in Chester. Patients enrolled in a hospice program should contact their hospice provider or Rx 3 at (804) 717-5000 to refill existing prescriptions or to request transfer of their prescription to a pharmacy of their choice.

Complaints about possible violations of Department of Health Professions' laws and regulations or issues with patient care may be made by calling 804/367-4691, or online at http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/Enforcement/complaints.htm

Click here to READ the board documents [PDF]: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wwbt/PDF/WestburyNotice04172015.pdf

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