The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has suspended an Evergreen Park pharmacy’s ability to dispense certain controlled substance medications, after it allegedly gave patients dangerous amounts and combinations of drugs.
The DEA issued an order to Evergreen Park Pharmacy on Wednesday immediately suspending the pharmacy’s ability to give patients certain medications including oxycodone, morphine, codeine and Valium. Certain drugs are labeled as controlled substance medications because of their potential for abuse and risk.
The order came after a DEA investigation revealed alleged regulatory violations and an Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program review showed that excessive opioids and dangerous drug combinations were allegedly given to three patients. A pharmacy expert who reviewed records found that the quantities and combinations of drugs dispensed to the three patients allegedly were “not for legitimate medical purposes, and could have led to respiratory failure and death,” the DEA Chicago division said in a news release.
Hani Abdallah, a pharmacist and the pharmacy’s owner, said Thursday when contacted by the Tribune that the pharmacy did nothing wrong and plans to fight the suspension. The pharmacy is still dispensing other types of medications not covered by the suspension.
Abdallah said he knows the three patients well, and they were all using the medications for legitimate purposes. He said they started on high amounts of the medications, but he was able to lower them.
“I think I did a good job at bringing them down, and for the DEA to come in and do that, it’s just not right,” Abdallah said.
When suspensions are issued, pharmacies have the right to administrative hearings before an administrative law judge renders a final decision about whether to revoke a pharmacy’s registration to legally dispense controlled substance medications. State-licensed pharmacies must be registered with the DEA to legally dispense controlled substance medications.
In recent years, doctors and pharmacies have come under scrutiny for how they prescribe and dispense certain medications, such as opioids, which can be addictive and lead to death when people overdose on them.
The state and nation have been dealing with an epidemic of opioid addiction, exacerbated by the pandemic.
In 2020, the number of opioid deaths in Illinois rose 33% compared with 2019, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office. In March, Pritzker announced a statewide Overdose Action Plan to help address the issue in some of the state’s hardest-hit areas.
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