United States Attorney’s Office Files Suit Against San Joaquin County Pharmacy for Unlawfully Dispensing Opioids | USAO-EDCA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In a civil complaint filed in the Eastern District of California, the United States alleges that Lawrence Howen and the pharmacy he owns, Nor-Cal Pharmacies Inc. doing business as Lockeford Drug, unlawfully dispensed controlled substances from 2016 through 2019, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

The complaint alleges that Howen failed to meet his obligations as the pharmacist of Lockeford Drug in dispensing dangerous opioids and other drugs. According to the complaint, Howen knowingly filled over 700 controlled substance prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose, and he filled prescriptions outside the ordinary course of pharmacy practice. This unlawful conduct resulted in the improper dispensing of over a hundred thousand of doses of controlled substances, primarily prescription opioids. Civil penalties and injunctive relief are sought to prevent Howen from committing further violations.

“As a pharmacist who filled prescriptions for dangerous controlled substances, Howen had an obligation to fill only those prescriptions that he ensured were legitimate,” said U.S. Attorney Scott. “Too many lives have been lost during the opioid crisis because those entrusted with responsibility turned a blind eye. This filing represents an important step in our efforts to hold pharmacists and others in the chain of opioid distribution accountable for misconduct.”

“Pharmacists are often the last line of defense to ensure controlled substances are dispensed lawfully and do not fall into the wrong hands. DEA will continue to hold those accountable who choose to ignore red flags and put the public at risk,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Sacramento Tactical Diversion Squad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Tennyson is prosecuting the case.

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