Wood Disagrees With Civil Suit

Rogers “Chip” Wood of Chip’s Discount Drugs in Hazlehurst strongly disagrees with a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Georgia.
A news release issued last Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, Southern District of Georgia, was apparently posted on WTOC-TV Savannah’s Facebook page that afternoon. According to Wood, that post appeared on Facebook before he had received a copy of the lawsuit.
According to the news release, Chips Discount Drugs and Chip Wood are accused of dispensing thousands of highly addictive controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office accuses Chip’s of failing to recognize “red flags” of improper and illegitimate prescriptions, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
The posting on the WTOC Facebook page drew dozens of comments some of which Wood said were posted “by people who choose to believe the worst, or are prone to make uninformed statements or opinions….”
“Pharmacists have responsibilities under the law which nearly all follow,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “This lawsuit is part of our office’s continuing effort seeking to hold accountable every level of the distribution chain who fail to act consistent with the basic obligations of the law.”
As alleged in the suit, the defendants “knew or should have known” that many of the prescriptions it filled were not issued for legitimate reasons. Those “red flag” warnings of drug abuse and diversion included numerous patients traveling long distances to get prescriptions filled; simultaneous prescriptions to the same patients for similar drugs; prescriptions for the same drugs in multiple strengths; prescriptions for daily doses higher than medically necessary; prescriptions for drug combinations well-known in the medical and pharmacy community as carrying a high risk of drug abuse; and a disproportionate level of cash sales.
But Wood pointed out “There is no allegation that our store filled fake prescriptions or dispensed any medicines without a legitimate prescription from a doctor whose license was valid and not flagged by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) or any other government agency as being under investigation for any reason.”
Wood said the prescriptions the government is suing them about were checked by Chip’s to determine if the physician was in good standing with the DEA. They have since learned the the physician in question was under investigation for over a year but the DEA did not notify pharmacies or note the investigation on its registry that the doctor was under investigation.
While the suit alleges that the defendants could not account for more than 9,000 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills supplied to the pharmacy as required by the Controlled Substances Act, Wood said that number is in dispute. “In negotiations prior to the suit being filed, we have shown the government this information but it has been ignored,” Wood said. “It has further ignored that the number of prescriptions filled for the drugs targeted in the lawsuit is an insignificant percentage of the actual number and sales with our total prescription base. In other words, we had no incentive in filling any these now disputed prescriptions.
“Finally, our customers know our business as a local hometown pharmacy that has brought lower prices and better service to our community. Because of you, our business has grown far beyond what we ever expected. We have never had a need to, nor will we ever, knowingly violate the law or abuse our goodwill in the community.
“We will aggressively defend the lawsuit because we have done nothing wrong!”
The claims asserted against the defendants are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
See Wood’s full statement elsewhere on this page.

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