A Baltimore-based pharmacy and pharmacist have agreed to pay $15,000 in penalty and adhere to “corrective action” in a civil case that involves allegedly filling fraudulent prescriptions despite red flags.
The United States entered into a consent decree with Ketan K. Dankhara and Falls RX, LLC, doing business as Ultra Care Pharmacy Baltimore, according to a news release.
This means the civil case was resolved without Dankhara and the pharmacy admitting guilt. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett approved the consent decree.
United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Jarod A. Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration for the Washington Field Division announced the settlement Thursday.
Dankhara allegedly violated the Controlled Substances Act by repeatedly filling illegitimate prescriptions between at least May to September 2020 at the pharmacy on 4419 Falls Road B in Baltimore’s Hoe’s Height neighborhood.
An individual came into the pharmacy and tried to file dozens of prescriptions for a number of people, many of whom had never been to the pharmacy, the release says.
At least several dozen of these prescriptions were fraudulent and were for the same drug, strength and quantity, according to the release. They were also from the same prescriber, and some were prescribed by an OB/GYN to men.
These “red flags” should have acted as “warning signs” that the prescriptions were fake, but Dankhara ignored them and failed to investigate, according to the release. He also allegedly lied at least once about talking with the prescriber but later changed his story.
The government alleges that Ultra Care is liable for these deficiencies. In addition to paying a $15,000 civil monetary penalty under the consent decree, Dankhara and the pharmacy are required to identify certain red flags.
These include when a patient presents prescriptions with the names of other people without a valid justification and when the patient is biologically male and presents prescriptions from an obstetrician or gynecologist.
Dankhara and the pharmacy are also required, among other provisions, to document in detail any indications of prescription abuse or diversion and the steps they took to ensure that the prescription was valid and issued for legitimate medical purposes.
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The United States Drug Enforcement Administration can order Dankhara and the pharmacy to shut down immediately if they violate any provision in the consent decree, according to the release.
Pharmacists and pharmacies assume a critical gatekeeping function to prevent the diversion of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, said Barron.
“Just as prescribers cannot use their prescription pad as a blank checkbook to write prescriptions for controlled substances, the CSA and its regulations make clear that pharmacists have a corresponding responsibility to ensure the legitimacy of the prescriptions they fill,” he said in the release.
Such cases fuel Maryland’s drug addiction epidemic, Barron added.
“When pharmacists ignore ‘red flags,’ their dispensing contributes to the opioid epidemic,” said Forget. “We at the DEA are working hard, every day, to investigate such behavior, and keep our communities safe.”
Dankhara’s and Ultra Care Pharmacy Baltimore’s attorney, Anthony J. Mahajan of Frier Levitt law firm in New Jersey, did not immediately return a request for comment.