Tampa, Florida (USDOJ.Today) United States District Judge Thomas Barber has sentenced Hong Truong (54, Dunedin) to 30 months in federal prison for the unlawful distribution of oxycodone outside the scope of professional practice. Truong was also ordered to pay a $500,000 criminal fine and a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $766,819, representing the proceeds of her illegal drug distribution.
Truong had pleaded guilty on April 24, 2020.
According to the court documents, Truong was a licensed pharmacist who owned and operated HP Pharmacy in Pinellas Park. Under federal regulations, pharmacists registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration, such as Truong, are responsible for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substance prescriptions. At HP Pharmacy, Truong filled Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions for oxycodone and hydromorphone that were outside the usual course of professional practice and not issued for a legitimate medical purpose. In connection with these prescriptions, Truong ignored and failed to resolve red flags in violation of her responsibility as a pharmacist. For example, in return for filling prescriptions for 30 mg of oxycodone and 8 mg of hydromorphone, Truong charged and only accepted cash in a higher-than-market per-pill price, usually $5 – $6 per pill. Truong ordered a much higher volume of opiates for HP Pharmacy inventory than the average orders for other pharmacies in Florida and across the United States.
Truong also filled prescriptions for “opiate naïve” patients (those who have never previously been prescribed opiates) without consulting with the prescribing physician or the patient as to the need and diagnosis for the prescription. Many of Truong’s opiate patients were young and healthy-looking and traveled far distances to Truong’s small pharmacy, usually after visiting a prescribing physician located in Tampa. Truong and the pharmacy tech she employed, Jessica Evans, falsely noted on the back of many prescriptions that the prescription had been verified with the prescriber’s office when such was not the case. For her role in the conspiracy, Evans was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison on August 27, 2020.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and by the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office which focuses on opioid-related fraud and abuse by medical and health care professionals who have contributed to the prescription opioid epidemic. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelley Howard-Allen and Greg Pizzo.