Drug Distributor Agrees To Destroy Drugs Following Investigation
Houston County Courier
HOUSTON – Texas Attor-ney General Greg Abbott has resolved the state’s legal ac-tion against a Houston-area wholesale drug distributor that improperly purchased and dis-tributed “misbranded” pre-scription drugs. Under an agreed final judg-ment negotiated by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the defendants must implement procedures that will prevent misbranded or counterfeit pharmaceutical products from being unlawfully distributed to their Texas retail pharmacies. The agreement stems from the Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) in-vestigation into Medical Dis-count Pharmacy, L.P., a state-licensed wholesale drug dis-tributor that warehouses and distributes prescription drugs. In addition to Medical Dis-count Pharmacy, the state’s legal action names a related entity, Lifechek Inc. and two of Lifechek’s retail pharma-cies. Defendants Medical Dis-count Pharmacy and Lifechek Inc. share the same corporate address and are owned by Ro-senberg pharmacist Bruce Gingrich. According to state investiga-tors, Medical Discount Phar-macy and Lifechek Inc. pur-chased pharmaceutical prod-ucts from suppliers that are not licensed to distribute drugs in the state of Texas. State investigators also learned that some of the phar-maceutical products in Medi-cal Discount’s inventory may have been counterfeit drugs. Medical Discount’s ware-house inventory contained products with packaging and lot numbers that were not con-sistent with the original num-bers and packaging provided by the drugs’ manufacturer. While investigating Medical Discount’s drug inventory, state investigators uncovered “misbranded” drugs. Medical Discount distributes prescription drugs to its retail pharmacies. Also, according to investiga-tors, Lifechek Inc. improperly repackaged prescription drugs, including Lipitor, for distribution to Texas pharmacies – without properly obtaining a drug manufacturing license from state authorities. Under Texas law, repackag-ing prescription drugs is a manufacturing activity and therefore requires a manufac-turing license. Because Lifechek Inc. lacked the requisite license, it could not legally repackage drugs and distribute them to the retail pharmacies. As a result, the improperly packaged products were deemed “misbranded” by state health authorities. The agreed final judgment filed on Thursday, May 6 en-sures the defendants comply with legal requirements that protect Texas pharmaceutical purchasers. Under the agreement, Medi-cal Discount Pharmacy must destroy – through the use of a licensed drug salvager – hun-dreds of thousands of dollars of pharmaceutical products that have been detained by the state. The agreement also requires that the defendants remit a $25,000 civil penalty to the state, along with $50,000 in attorneys’ fees and $9,000 for DSHS’s investigative costs.