In the wake of a $125,000 civil settlement
Ennis Pharmacy makes changes
This story was corrected at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 26.
Ennis Pharmacy and Yesterday’s Soda Fountain, Inc. entered a $125,000 civil settlement agreement July 7.
A routine Drug Enforcement Administration inspection in April 2019 led to an investigation, which discovered numerous potential civil violations of the Controlled Substances Act. Brad Stoick, the former pharmacist who pleaded guilty to falsifying prescriptions for controlled substances while working at the Ennis Pharmacy, sparked the DEA’s investigation.
“Opioid abuse causes tremendous harm in our communities,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said. “It is critical that all pharmacies and other providers follow the rules to be sure that controlled substances are not misused. We take very seriously any violations of the Controlled Substances Act, particularly those which could lead to diversion of opioids.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA’s investigation claimed the Ennis Pharmacy failed to report at least seven thefts or losses of controlled substances to the DEA, failed to take the proper inventory of its stock of controlled substances, allowed pharmacy staff to use the owner’s credentials to order controlled substances and allowed staff to make manual adjustments to inventory records without proper explanation.
The lax oversight at the Ennis Pharmacy may have enabled Stoick’s illegal activity to go unnoticed for more than a year. But the civil settlement agreement was not an admission to any liability nor a claim that the potential violations were not substantiated.
Terms of the settlement included that the Ennis Pharmacy must check the criminal history of potential employees handling controlled substances and that only a registered pharmacist can order Schedule II controlled substances for the pharmacy.
According to court documents, Stoick filled eight prescriptions of 120 pills each for himself between October 2017 and December 2019. Madison Valley Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Marks was the apparent physician to prescribe the drug containing Hydrocodone, a Schedule II-controlled substance. Marks told DEA investigators he had never prescribed anything to Stoick. MVMC has no record of Stoick ever being a patient.
Stoick nearly tripled the number of pills and doubled the Hydrocodone dosage of a prescription for a friend in Utah, whose name was withheld from court documents. The Ennis Pharmacy computer system showed that Stoick altered, filled and mailed the prescription Jan. 2, 2019.
Stoick pleaded guilty in federal court July 21 to using fraud or forgery to obtain opioid prescriptions for personal use, and unlawfully dispensing opioids. The 70-year-old Idaho man faces imprisonment up to 20 years and $1 million in fines. He was released pending further proceedings. The court set his sentencing hearing for Nov. 19, 2020.
The $125,000 in fines will be paid over the course of 11 months.
The Ennis Pharmacy’s recent delays in filling certain types of controlled substances is not connected to the July 7 civil settlement. The pharmacy is working to resolve an issue with suppliers, which it expects to be a prompt fix.
“Ennis Pharmacy is not prohibited from filling patient prescriptions for controlled substances," Ennis Pharmacy legal counsel Drew Gaertner said. “Indeed, it is fully authorized to dispense controlled substances to its customers in accordance with state and federal law."
"Recently, Ennis Pharmacy has encountered minor delays from suppliers with respect to certain types of controlled substances, unrelated to the Stoick/DEA case. However, this supply-chain issue is expected to be resolved promptly, and in the meantime, Ennis Pharmacy will continue to work diligently to serve its customers to the best of its ability. Finally, please be advised that Ennis Pharmacy’s execution of the Civil Settlement Agreement in connection with the case to which you refer is in no way an admission of liability, but instead was a prudent response to expedite the resolution of the matter so that Ennis Pharmacy could get back to focusing its time and resources on the efficient service of the community it loves,” Gaertner continued.