Board penalizes pharmacists

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2011 - 7:01 PM

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy disciplined eight pharmacists and one wholesaler in 2010, mostly for issues related to the licensees' access to prescription narcotics. The board oversees about 7,400 pharmacists and 8,600 technicians licensed in Minnesota. Last year, the board steered four disciplined pharmacists into the Health Professionals Service Program (HPSP), a program that monitors testing and treatment of substance abuse and other health problems.

The program is open to physicians, nurses and other health professionals and is funded by license fees. More than 550 people are currently enrolled. Half of all enrollees successfully complete the three-year program.

The disciplinary actions are listed in order of severity.

1 Pharmaceutical Returns, Northfield

Revocation of wholesaler license.

The company collected expired, recalled or excess drugs from retailers and destroyed them or returned them to suppliers. Owner Mark A. Goetz of Prior Lake pleaded guilty to diverting drugs for street sales. He was sentenced to four years in prison for selling about 1,274 tablets of Oxycontin and 245 tablets of Xanax to undercover federal agents.

2 Michael J. DeBernardi, Pequot Lakes

Indefinite suspension.

DeBernardi didn't attend a prehearing conference to address allegations related to his alcohol use. A judge agreed the board could discipline the pharmacist for his two DWIs, his discharge from HPSP twice for noncompliance and his reuse of alcohol.

3 Robin Sanders, Burnsville

Voluntary surrender for at least three years.

Sanders diverted controlled substances from his employer and acknowledged that a large amount of drugs went missing when he was in charge.

4 Michel L. Pobuda, Cologne

Suspension after reprimand and $1,000 fine.

There were unexplained shortages of narcotics while Pobuda was in charge of a pharmacy. She left technicians unsupervised. She appeared impaired at times.

In March, Pobuda was reprimanded, fined and told to contact HPSP. Later she was suspended for noncompliance.

According to a Jan. 5 order, the board stayed Pobuda's suspension last month after she admitted chemical dependency and agreed to reenroll in HPSP. Her access to narcotics was restricted.

5 Robert I. Duffee, Owatonna

Limited and conditional license.

Duffee took controlled substances from his employer for his own use. He enrolled in HPSP but didn't comply with the terms. He may work only where cameras or co-workers can keep tabs on him. He must complete HPSP.

6 James H. Koski, Brainerd

Limited license, reprimand, $2,500 fine.

Koski admitted improperly dispensing medications to a family member. He also let a technician keep a key to the pharmacy and was unable to account for large shortages of controlled substances. Koski is not allowed to work as a pharmacist-in-charge for at least three years.

7 Angie L. Schimming, Big Lake

Limited and conditional license.

Schimming was unsatisfactorily discharged from HPSP, where she had enrolled after diverting drugs for her own use. The board banned her from working in a setting where she has access to narcotics. She must reenroll in HPSP.

8 Gregory J. Schouweiler, Inver Grove Heights

Reprimand, $500 fine.

Schouweiler didn't ensure that prescriptions were entered into a computer and filled correctly. He dispensed a different medication to a family member than what was prescribed.

9 Katy A. Vesel, Fargo

Reprimand, $500 fine.

Vesel provided remote clinical consultations to Minnesota patients from a location in North Dakota before her Minnesota license was issued in April 2010.

Last year, the registrations of five technicians were also revoked for owing back taxes to the state.

Hard Data digs into public records and puts a spotlight on rule breakers in the Twin Cities and Minnesota. Contact me at jfriedmann@startribune.com.

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