Odessa pharmacy and owner to pay $320,000 in civil penalties
Penalties levied for alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005
EL PASO, Texas -- Odessa pharmacy Town & Country Drug, Inc. (Town & Country) and its owner, pharmacist Gary Warren, have entered into a civil settlement with the United States that requires them to pay $320,000 in civil penalties to resolve allegations that they violated certain provisions of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (CMEA), announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Kyle Williamson, El Paso Division and U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer.
During a routine inspection of Town & Country in May 2017, DEA diversion investigators identified significant discrepancies in the pharmacy’s inventory of controlled substances. DEA investigators noted that Town & Country was in violation of numerous regulatory recordkeeping provisions and had sold pseudoephedrine and ephedrine products without self-certifying as required by the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (CMEA).
During a follow-up inspection in February 2020, DEA Diversion investigators identified additional discrepancies in the pharmacy’s inventory of controlled substances, determining that Town & Country continued to violate CSA recordkeeping requirements and sell pseudoephedrine and ephedrine products without self-certifying. These requirements are intended to prevent the diversion of controlled substances for illegal purposes.
The CMEA was signed into law on March 9, 2006 to regulate, among other things, over-the-counter sales of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine products, common ingredients in cough, cold, and allergy products. Retail provisions of the CMEA include daily sales limits and 30-day purchase limits, placement of product out of direct customer access, sales logbooks, customer ID verification, employee training and self-certification of regulated sellers. The CMEA was passed because those drugs are precursor chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine or amphetamine.
“Historically, most diversion of legitimate controlled substance occurs at the retail level,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Williamson. “The DEA will continue to combat the rising tide of prescription abuse in our country by ensuring DEA-registered entities follow all requirements set forth by the law.”
“Pharmacies play a vital role in ensuring that opioids and other addictive drugs are not diverted and abused,” said U.S. Attorney Sofer. “This office will use all available tools at our disposal, including civil remedies when appropriate, to detect, prevent, and prosecute violations of federal recordkeeping requirements.”
Town & Country has informed the government that it is enhancing its recordkeeping and compliance program in response to the deficiencies identified by the DEA and that it will maintain a current certification under the CMEA.
The DEA’s Diversion Control Unit in El Paso led the investigation of this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Parnham negotiated the settlement on behalf of the government. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.