A pharmacist from Minnesota has been charged with stealing over 20,000 pills of five different drugs while working as a pharmacist at two Park Nicollet pharmacies – Carlson Pharmacy in Minnetonka and Wayzata Pharmacy in Wayzata. The Maple Grove man, identified as Jeffrey Grothaus, 49, has been charged with four counts of theft by swindle, said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. His booty mostly included sedative zolpidem and synthetic opioid tramadol. He said that he stole the drugs to satiate his own addiction.
As per the court records, Grothaus was accused of stealing the pills between May 1, 2015 and Aug. 2, 2016. The complaint, first filed in March, said that in July 2016, an internal investigation conducted by HealthPartners at two of its pharmacies found that huge adjustments were made to the inventory in the pharmacy management system at the stores.
One of the examples cited in the report was of June 15, 2016. As per the CCTV footage, Grothaus was seen making an adjustment of 500 zolpidem tablets in Wayzata Pharmacy’s computer records and then returning to his workplace. But later, the tablets were found missing from all the records of HealthPartners/Park Nicollet pharmacies. The CCTV footage also showed Grothaus slipping an item into his pocket and then putting it in his locker.
What strengthened the charges against Grothaus was his signature on a stipulation and consent order that said that he began stealing the drugs in June/July 2012. The consent was signed by him on Nov. 4, 2016.
Prescription drug use a rising threat
In the wake of the opioid crisis ravaging the United States, Attorney Freeman said that the state was prosecuting the pharmacist to ensure that such powerful drugs do not float freely in the market. “In a separate civil court, we are suing the manufacturers and distributors of opioids for flooding the market as well,” he added.
A spokesperson of HealthPartners said that Grothaus was no longer employed with Park Nicollet. In fact, the company had devised methods to keep a close tab on the dispensing and disposal of medications in order to eliminate any chance of drug diversion.
Immediate steps needed to curb the problem
Millions across the United States are grappling with an opioid addiction. Therefore, it is time necessary steps are taken to spread awareness and address the stigma associated with addiction so that more and more people opt for treatment. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regularly plans initiatives to tackle the risk of prescription drug abuse, such as its recently concluded National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. However, in case one gets addicted to drugs, seeking help from the best addiction treatment facility or adopting a 12-step approach to addiction is a sure shot way to attain recovery and lead a healthy and productive life.