January 28, 2015
Contact: SA Debbie Webber
Phone Number: (504) 840-1100
Perry County Pharmacist Arrested On Federal Drug Charge
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Drug Enforcement (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Downing and Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas announced the unsealing of a Complaint and the arrest this morning of Christopher Watson, a Perry County pharmacist, charging him with illegal distribution of a controlled substance. Watson turned himself in to the DEA this morning and was taken into custody. Watson made his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge H. David Young this afternoon and is being held pending his bond hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 29, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Young.
“It is disheartening when trusted professionals like your local pharmacist are engaged in the diversion of controlled substances,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Downing. “All DEA registrants have an obligation to ensure that medications are getting into the hands of legitimate patients. Any registrant who violates or blatantly ignores their obligations will be held accountable for allowing these good medicines to get into the hands of drug dealers and addicts. The arrest of Christopher Watson and the issuance of an Immediate Suspension Order for the Perry County Food and Drug store is the result of DEA’s continued commitment to hold accountable those who participate in illegally dispensing controlled substances in our communities,” stated Downing.
“Arrests such as the arrest of pharmacist Christopher Watson today are never taken lightly by this office,” stated Thyer. “While we recognize the impact this will have on people who have legitimate prescriptions, it was nonetheless necessary to stop the flow of prescription medications to persons who obtained them without a valid prescription. When a pharmacist knowingly fills a falsified prescription, medications are dispensed without appropriate oversight by medical professionals and subsequently are not used according to precise instructions meant to protect the user. Without these protections, the risk of side effects, addiction, and even death are greatly multiplied. It is imperative that we take action to ensure that controlled medications are not putting lives at risk.”
According to the Affidavit filed with the Complaint, beginning in the Fall of 2014, the Drug Enforcement (DEA), in connection with state and local law enforcement agencies, began an investigation into the unlawful distribution of Schedule II and III pharmaceutical narcotics by pharmacist Christopher Watson at the Perry County Food and Drug store in Perryville, Arkansas. Information received was that Mr. Watson was distributing Scheduled narcotics to individuals who had no prescriptions or false prescriptions.
On November 7, 2014, based on the information received during the investigation, DEA agents fabricated a prescription for Hydrocodone and (Xanax) tablets. The prescription was utilized during an undercover operation at Perry County Food and Drug. A DEA agent, working in an undercover capacity, presented a fabricated prescription to Mr. Watson at the Perry County Food and Drug store pharmacy. Mr. Watson reviewed the prescription and acknowledged that it was a forged prescription by informing the undercover agent to “work on” the official DEA registration number, and giving him specific instructions of how to make the prescription look like a valid prescription. Mr. Watson filled the fabricated prescription (120) Hydrocodone tablets (60) (Xanax) tablets.
The operation resulted in the issuance of an Immediate Suspension Order to the Perry County Food and Drug store. This Order was issued by the Administrator of DEA on the grounds that the pharmacy constitutes an imminent danger to public health and safety, and it immediately suspends the DEA Registration of the Perry County Food and Drug store required to dispense controlled substances. As a result of this Order, the Perry County Food and Drug store is prohibited from possessing and/or dispensing controlled substances pending a federal administrative hearing.
The investigation is ongoing and is conducted by DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Criminal Chief Anne Gardner.
The charges set forth in a Complaint are merely allegations. A federal Grand Jury will decide whether to indict on these charges. Watson is presumed innocent until proven guilty.