Suspension follows 2000 prescriptions for Subutex

CHARLESTON – United States Attorney Mike Stuart issued the following statement, Thursday, August 8, 2019 regarding Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy: 

“Prescribing controlled drugs is a privilege and not a right.   Every pharmacy that fills prescriptions of scheduled narcotics has a corresponding responsibility to assure that those prescriptions do not include unresolvable red flags and are for a legitimate medical purpose.   It is the proper role of law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration to ensure public safety with respect to the dispensing of controlled substances by pharmacists and providers.   We take this responsibility seriously.   

“Today, an Order to Show Cause and Immediate Suspension of Registration was issued to Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy located in Oak Hill (Fayette County), West Virginia.   Pursuant to Sections 303 and 304 of the Controlled Substances Act, Title 21, United States Code, Sections 823 and 824, Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy has had its Drug Enforcement Administration Certificate of Registration suspended because it constitutes an “imminent danger to the public health or safety.”   Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy is registered with the DEA to handle substances in Schedules II through V at its 819 Main Street East, Oak Hill, WV location.   Martin Njoku is the owner and pharmacist in charge.   The suspension was based on improper dispensing from at least December 2016 to March 2019, filling approximately 2,000 prescriptions for a widely-abused Schedule III narcotic, Subutex, in the face of obvious red flags of drug abuse and diversion.  Over half the prescriptions came from an out-of-state clinic located almost 200 miles away from Oak Hill.   The Pharmacy’s customers drove long distances – in some cases more than 600 miles – to obtain and fill their prescriptions and many of them paid in cash.   The prescriptions were for Subutex;    The prescriptions were issued by out-of-state physicians; Approximately 96% of the prescriptions were paid for in cash; Multiple patients frequently presented prescriptions that had been written on the same day;  and the patients travelled long distances for even partial refills. The Pharmacy continued to fill prescriptions for Subutex in the face of obvious red flags of abuse and diversion through at least March 2019.    The DEA executed an administrative inspection warrant on November 28, 2018 and, following the inspection, the Pharmacy curtailed filling out-of-state Subutex prescriptions.    However, since that time the Pharmacy’s pharmacists have resumed filling prescriptions with the same unresolvable red flags.   The suspension of Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy’s Registration will continue until a final determination is reached.   This is a suspension and not yet a revocation, but none the less, during the period of the suspension, Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy may not fill any prescriptions for Schedule II through Schedule V narcotics.      

“Oak Hill Hometown Pharmacy will have an opportunity to show cause before the DEA at a location to be determined on October 15, 2019, as to why its Registration should not be revoked.   Within 30 days after the date the Pharmacy received its Order to Show Cause and Immediate Suspension of Registration, the Pharmacy may file a written request for a hearing or file a waiver of hearing with a written statement regarding its perspective on the matters of fact and law involved in the Order.    If the pharmacy fails to request a hearing or fails to file a waiver, the Pharmacy shall be deemed to have waived its right to a hearing and a final order may be issued.”