The Virginia Board of Pharmacy recently reprimanded a Front Royal pharmacy for what the board stated was a failure “to take appropriate steps to determine the validity of prescriptions.”

According to a February consent order from the Board of Pharmacy, Lester & Mowery’s Pharmacy in Front Royal dispensed opioids to at least four patients despite signs of potential abuse.

The pharmacy declined to comment on the case. Gerald Canaan II, the lawyer representing the pharmacy in the case, has not responded to a request for comment.

The order from the Board of Pharmacy focuses on four patients whose prescribers were more than 60 miles away from the pharmacy.

In the case of one of those patients, the order states, the Front Royal pharmacy dispensed oxycodone to the patient despite the fact that the patient’s prescriber did not respond to inquiries from the pharmacy about the patient’s medical condition.

That patient, according to the order, also paid cash for some of the oxycodone prescriptions while paying for others with insurance.

On June 5, the order states, the patient paid for a 23-day supply of oxycodone with insurance. Fifteen days later, the patient received another 23-day supply of oxycodone, this time paying in cash.

In another case, two patients living at the same address received identical prescriptions for oxycodone and oxymorphone. The two patients lived more than 80 miles away from their prescriber and their prescriber was more than 60 miles away from the pharmacy, the order states.

According to the order, Lester & Mowery’s Pharmacy failed in those cases to adequately respond to potential signs that the opioids were being abused.

“The pharmacy...continued to dispense narcotics and other controlled substances despite substantial evidence of potential abuse or misuse,” the order states.

Caroline Juran, the executive director of the Board of Pharmacy, described a reprimand as a “legal sanctioning” from the Board of Pharmacy. Because of the reprimand, Lester & Mowery’s will have to disclose that it has been disciplined by a regulatory agency.

“It’s an acknowledgement that there was a violation of some sort,” Juran said.

But without additional terms and conditions, the reprimand does not require any additional actions from the pharmacy. The only additional condition in the consent order for Lester & Mowery’s Pharmacy is a requirement that the pharmacy “comply with all laws and regulations governing the practice of pharmacy in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

“If anyone asks [the pharmacy], ‘Have you ever been disciplined by a regulatory agency?’ they have to answer, ‘Yes,’” Juran said. “And whether that has an implication on whatever that type of activity is is really dependent on who it is they’re giving the information to. But it is a form of disciplinary action.”

The decision by the Board of Pharmacy to reprimand Lester & Mowery’s Pharmacy is a rare one for the board. While the board occasionally reprimands or suspends individual pharmacists and technicians, the orders it places on pharmacies typically come in the form of monetary penalties.

In fact, according to data from the website of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, of which the Board of Pharmacy is a part, the February reprimand of Lester & Mowery’s pharmacy marks the first time in at least five years that the board has imposed a reprimand on a pharmacy.

The board additionally issued one summary suspension, one revocation, two probations and 186 corrective actions since January 2014.

By contrast, in that same period, the board issued 1,375 monetary penalties, the data shows.

Contact Max Lee at mlee@nvdaily.com