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Punish those who fuel abuse issue

It has been more than a decade since opioid abuse exploded into an epidemic in West Virginia. Shady pain clinics, pill mills and unscrupulous doctors became “legal” drug dealers as they reaped as much profit as they could before government caught on.

Though agencies did, eventually, catch on and shut down the most egregious offenders, it seems they did not stop everyone. The fight continues, as the owner of two West Virginia pharmacies has agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties to settle allegations that they filled illegitimate prescriptions in violation of federal law, as recently as last year.

Federal prosecutors said Beckley Pharmacy’s two locations and Bee Well Pharmacy in South Charleston filled prescriptions that were not for a legitimate medical purpose from 2015 to 2020. Those who have been following the effort to hunt down “legal” pill pushers will note these folks were reportedly just getting started, as it seemed many others were being forced out of the business.

Information provided to the Associated Press did not go into specifics as to whether the substances being shilled by these pharmacies included opioids. But Bee Well Pharmacy will be unable to fill prescriptions for controlled substances after agreeing to surrender its Drug Enforcement Administration registration, though the Beckley locations will retain their registrations but must adhere to more stringent regulatory and reporting obligations.

“Pharmacies must keep accurate records and maintain strong controls when handling controlled substances,” acting U.S. Attorney Lisa G. Johnston said. “Those that fail to do so open the door to the potential diversion of drugs, the illegal distribution, and abuse of these drugs.”

It is good to know federal officials have not eased up in searching out these offenders.

But it is a shame there are still those who are not determined to do all they can to ensure they are not part of the problem.

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