HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Westbury Pharmacy and its head pharmacist have agreed to hand over their rights to dispense drugs following an April suspension from the State Board of Pharmacy.
The pharmacy agreed to the revocation of its pharmacy permit and waived its right to a formal hearing, according to a press release from the Virginia Department of Health Professionals. The former pharmacist-in-charge, Faiz Oley, also waived his right to a hearing and agreed to have his license revoked. The pharmacy must pay a $65,050 penalty. while Oley was given a $55,050 penalty. Under the consent orders entered Friday, neither Oley nor the pharmacy admit fault.
People who live around here say they hope this neighborhood staple will stay in business, even though the report says the pharmacist in charge violated major guidelines. "Nothing has really changed other than the lack of pharmacy," says Sarah Powell. "I think it's a nice homey feeling place to come, it's always been a nice place to come," says Carol Seiler.
Neither Westbury Pharmacy, nor Oley, can request to have the permits reinstated for at least three years, according to Diane Powers with the Department of Health Professionals. The revocation is site specific, so the pharmacy owners can operate other locations.
"With the Board's Summary Suspension Orders of April 17th, the Board of Pharmacy took swift measures to safeguard the public after determining that a substantial danger to the public's health or safety existed," said a press release from the Department of Health Professionals. "The Notice raised concerns regarding Westbury's ability to assure the quality, sterility, integrity, safety and efficacy of drugs dispensed as well as a failure to take measures to prevent drug diversion. The ability to engage in the practice of pharmacy in a professional manner free of fraudulent activity was also in question."
The State Board of Pharmacy shut down Westbury Pharmacy in April, 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 temporary locked in April while investigators inspected the building. The store has since reopened, but has not been able to dispense any prescription medication. At the time, sources said the prescription department was expected to remain closed for four to six weeks. An administrative hearing was set for next week, but is no longer needed under the consent orders.
Westbury Pharmacy issued the following statement on its website on Friday:
Westbury Pharmacy voluntarily entered into a consent order today with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
Our company has cooperated with the Board of Pharmacy, and our hope is that, working with the Board, a new independent pharmacy will be able to relocate or open at this location in the near future.
During this time we have received heartfelt expressions of support from hundreds of patients and health care colleagues and for that we are most grateful. We thank you.
It has been a privilege to serve such loyal patients and the Richmond community, which we have done for generations.
During this time, our home health service, retail store and restaurant remain open.
In a previous statement from April, 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.
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.
Westbury Pharmacy has told customers with prescriptions to go to the Westwood Pharmacy a few miles away in the Libbie Shopping Center. The pharmacy instructed patients to call Westwood Pharmacy at (804) 288-1933 to refill existing prescriptions or to request transfer of their prescription to a pharmacy of their choice. It also said prescriptions for hospice patients will be transferred to Rx3 in Chester. Patients enrolled in a hospice program should contact their hospice provider or Rx3 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 athttp://www.dhp.virginia.gov/Enforcement/complaints.htm