Wilmington pharmacy ordered to pay $1M fine, stop dispensing opioids

WILMINGTON NC (WWAY) — A federal court has ordered a Wilmington pharmacy to pay more than $1.05 million in fines and to stop dispensing opioids.

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina filed the complaint against Seashore Drugs, former owner and pharmacist John D. Waggett and pharmacist Billy W. King. Prosecutors accused the pharmacy of turning a blind eye and ignoring red flags while filling powerful and often-abused controlled substances.

According to the document, these prescriptions often involved well-known, highly addictive, and highly abused painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, along with other “potentiator” drugs—drugs that heighten the euphoric effects of opioids, like carisoprodol (i.e., Soma) and alprazolam (i.e., Xanax).

“Opioid addiction and abuse have devastated communities across our nation, and eastern North Carolina is no exception,” Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said. “As the last line of defense between these dangerously addictive substances and our communities, pharmacists and pharmacies play a critical role in stemming the tide of the opioid epidemic. Seashore, Waggett, and King ignored that responsibility and, instead, made matters worse.”

The consent order by the federal court in the eastern district:

  • Permanently prohibits Waggett from dispensing opioids or other controlled substances
  • Prohibits King from dispensing Schedule II controlled substances, including most opioids, for 180 days and then requires King to submit to further DEA monitoring for 3 years
  • Permanently prohibits Waggett and King from serving as a manager, owner, operator, or pharmacist-in-charge of any entity, including a pharmacy that administers, dispenses, or distributes controlled substances.

Prosecutors say over time, Seashore developed a reputation in the Wilmington pharmacy community as a place that filled the prescriptions other pharmacies refused, which attracted drug seekers.

According to the complaint, people with known histories of prescription drug abuse filled their opioid prescriptions there. At least one customer, who routinely filled high-strength and high-quantity oxycodone prescriptions at Seashore that were written by a Florida physician, had been treated multiple times for heroin overdose.

Prosecutors say multiple customers who filled opioid prescriptions at Seashore died from prescription-drug overdoses within days after Seashore dispensed their pills.

It’s a reputation that new owner Nirav Patel is trying to repair.

“We have no connections with the complaint, both those individuals are no longer associated with Seashore Drugs,” Patel told WWAY back in early November. “We have everything in place to make sure the patients are taken care of and to make sure that we do the right thing to serve the community.”

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