CASPER — A Casper pharmacy will pay $1 million to settle allegations of violations of federal drug law, the federal government said Tuesday afternoon.
According to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming, federal investigators began looking into the Osco Pharmacy located in the CY Avenue location of Albertsons grocery store in connection with a Casper doctor who was eventually convicted of running a pill mill.
The doctor, Shakeel Kahn, is now serving a quarter-century prison sentence. The pharmacy and its employees, however, were not named as part of the criminal prosecution.
And the civil settlement means that the government’s allegations against the pharmacy will not be tested in court; it requires neither the pharmacy to admit wrongdoing nor for government lawyers to retract their allegations. According to federal lawyers, after investigators audited the pharmacy, they found 128 instances of patients filling prescriptions for unusually large amounts of narcotic drugs, using multiple pharmacies to fill prescriptions and third parties filling prescriptions for out-of-state patients. The agents also found additional problems with the pharmacy’s records, according to the statement.
“This case is an example of how we must fight prescription drug abuse on both the supply and demand side,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen in a written statement. “We not only focus on users who seek prescription pills for illicit purposes, but also on doctors who may abuse their prescribing authority, and pharmacies who fail to exercise diligence in monitoring prescriptions as required by law.”
The civil case was built on investigation by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, offices that also led the investigation of the doctor.
“This settlement reflects the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ongoing commitment to utilize all of the tools at its disposal to fight the opioid epidemic, hold the medical and pharmaceutical communities responsible for violations, and protect the citizens of Wyoming,” said DEA Cheyenne Resident Agent in Charge David Tyree in the Tuesday afternoon news release.
At Kahn’s federal trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing the doctor wrote nearly 15,000 prescriptions that totaled roughly 2.2 million controlled pills. Nearly half of those contained the potent opioid painkiller oxycodone, which has a chemical structure closely related to heroin. The case demonstrated the business operated across Wyoming, and it distributed to states as far-flung as Arizona, Oregon and Massachusetts.
In August, a federal judge sentenced the 53-year-old doctor to 25 years imprisonment, which is the minimum sentence prescribed by federal sentencing guidelines. For the doctor’s two most serious convictions — conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances resulting in death and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise — guidelines directed Judge Alan Johnson to sentence Kahn to at least 20 years. The judge did so, and by running all counts at the same time save for a five-year gun crime sentence, Johnson ordered the 25-year term.
Shakeel Kahn’s brother, Nabeel, whom jurors also convicted of two felonies, is serving 15 years of imprisonment.
A spokeswoman for the pharmacy chain could not be reached by phone late Tuesday afternoon.