Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 20, 2019
Related Charleston Pharmacy Previously Shut Down
Pharmacy Agrees to Pay A Total of $250,000 in Community Restitution and Forfeiture
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A pharmacy located in Alum Creek in Lincoln County pled guilty to money laundering, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. The money laundering charge arose out of a conspiracy between the pharmacy and a pain clinic operating as a pill mill to dispense compound opioids for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the bounds of professional medical practice.
“Meds2Go Express Pharmacy is being held accountable for its role in contributing to West Virginia’s opioid crisis,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “This pharmacy put profits before all else and caused great harm to the communities it served. Prosecuting poison peddlers, whether they be a street dealer, drug kingpin, a medical professional or a corporation, has been and will continue to be, a priority for my office.”
In a plea agreement reached with the United States, Meds2Go Express Pharmacy, Inc. will shut down and pay community restitution for the costs associated with drug abuse treatment in West Virginia to redress the harm caused by illicit opioid usage stemming from the sale of prescription opioids.
Meds2Go Express Pharmacy, Inc. admitted that in 2014 and 2015, it filled prescriptions written by physicians employed by a pill mill despite its knowledge that there was no legitimate medical purpose for the prescriptions and that they were prescribed outside the usual course of medical practice. In order to maximize corporate profits, the pharmacy ignored numerous red flags that should have prevented them from dispensing the prescription medications written by the pill mill, such as: (1) an abnormally high amount of prescriptions for widely-abused, highly-addictive controlled substances such as oxycodone; (2) prescribed controlled substances to patients for long periods of time; (3) permitted refills before prior prescriptions should have run out; (4) ignored obvious signs that patients were drug addicts; (5) patients travelled long distances and from out of state; (6) multiple pill mill physicians issued prescriptions to the same patient; (7) numerous family members who were all patients of the pill mill, came to the pharmacy at the same time; (8) insurance companies refused to pay for prescriptions from the pill mill; and (9) cash-only transactions.
Meds2Go Express Pharmacy, Inc. admitted that it engaged in illegal manufacturing of its own supply of oxycodone and methadone due to supply and demand by “compounding” pills in mass quantities at its locations Alum Creek and Charleston. Due to the excessive amount of prescriptions for controlled substances written by the pill mill, the pharmacy could not obtain enough of a supply of oxycodone and methadone from its distributors. In order to keep up with the demand, the pharmacy bypassed purchase restrictions from the distributor by setting up and purchasing compounding equipment, training its employees to compound pills on a mass scale, purchasing powders and other raw materials, and manufacturing pills containing oxycodone and methadone. The compounded pills were then sold to cash-paying customers who had prescriptions written by the pill mill. The pharmacy used the proceeds from the illegal manufacturing and dispensing to carry on the operations of business.
As part of the plea agreement with the United States, Meds2Go Express Pharmacy, Inc. agreed that it will shut down and pay $250,000 toward community restitution and a forfeiture money judgment. The community restitution will be paid for the costs associated with drug abuse treatment in West Virginia to redress the harm caused by illicit opioid usage stemming from the sale of prescription opioids. The West Virginia Crime Victim's Compensation Fund will receive 65% of the community restitution amount, and 35% will be paid to West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities.
United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the hearing. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (OIG). Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Tessman and Steven I. Loew are handling the prosecution.
The plea agreement in this case can be found here.
USAO - West Virginia, Southern