Walgreen’s in Hot Water Over Phony Pharmacist
February 11, 2020 | Opioid Crisis
The drugstore chain agreed to pay $7.5 million in fines after an unlicensed pharmacist at several San Francisco Bay locations illegally filled more than 700,000 prescriptions over a ten-year period.
According to California prosecutors, Kim Thien Le stole license numbers from other pharmacists to fill prescriptions for Fentanyl, morphine, and other painkillers.
Le pleaded guilty to multiple felony impersonation counts.
Walgreen’s agreed to the settlement to avoid being charged with consumer fraud in Alameda and Santa Anna Counties.
Prosecutors alleged that Walgreen’s failed to verify Le’s license and did not conduct a thorough background check.
The company insisted it has taken remedial measures.
“Pharmacy quality and safety are top priorities, and upon learning of this issue, we undertook a re-verification of the licenses of all our pharmacists nationwide,” officials stated in a news release.
The Opioid Epidemic
Doctors habitually prescribe powerful opioids, such as Fentanyl and Oxycintin, to patients who experienced even minor, short-term pain.
Probably as a result of overprescription, almost a third of these patients develop opioid addictions.
This crisis may have been several decades in the making.
In the 1980s, a short letter appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A group of doctors erroneously claimed that opioids were not addictive if the patient had no medical history of drug abuse.
Roughly ten years later, the government began allowing drug manufacturers to market their wares directly to the public.
In 2017, there were over 190 million opioid prescriptions in the United States.
That’s an average of fifty-nine prescriptions for every one hundred Americans.
In certain geographic areas, the opioid prescription rate is up to seven times higher than the national average.
Your Claim for Damages
If your loved one was among the millions of opioid abuse victims, you have legal options, beginning with the opioid manufacturer.
Drug companies are strictly liable for injuries which their dangerous products caused.
There is evidence that Perdue Pharma and other drug makers knew their products were dangerously addictive.
Yet for many years, these manufacturers were in an arms race. Each wanted to develop a stronger opioid than its competitors.
In unlicensed pharmacist cases, like the one described above, the negligent supervision doctrine often comes into play. This legal rule holds employers liable for damages if:
- Organization accepted responsibility for the worker,
- Supervisor failed to properly monitor the worker, and
- Failure to supervise caused the victim/plaintiff’s injury.
Negligent hiring is a related legal concept. It usually applies if an employer knowingly hires an incompetent worker to do a certain job.
Special rules may apply if the incompetency involved a criminal record.
Damages in a negligence claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in some extreme cases.
Employers have a duty to properly supervise their workers, especially if dangerous drugs are involved.
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.
We have offices across the country, including in New York, California, Florida and more.
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