Health Care

Poland Pharmacist Files Mandamus against Ohio Board

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A Poland pharmacist has filed a petition in the 7th District Court of Appeals asking the court to order the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to assess whether pharmacists are complying with the state’s drug distribution laws.

“I’m a pharmacist and I don’t want to upset the board,” said Raymond Carlson, owner of RC Compounding in Poland and RC Outsourcing in Lowellville. “So, I didn’t do this lightly.”

Carlson has filed a petition on behalf of the residents of Ohio in asking the court to issue a preemptory writ of mandamus or an alternative writ of mandamus that would require the board to determine the compliance rates of retail and mail order pharmacies.

He said many pharmacists have expressed frustration because they find it harder to fulfill their duties as a result of the high volume of prescriptions physicians write and at the same time comply with insurance contracts and maintain a level of quality to patients.

Carlson suspects that some pharmacies have circumvented state regulations, that they have taken shortcuts that allow them to dispense a higher volume of prescription drugs. These pharmacies, he noted, are filling 700 prescriptions a day.

Insurance companies have included language in their contracts with pharmacies, Carlson says, that limit his ability to challenge the legitimacy of prescriptions he fills.

RC Compounding was founded in 2006. The company compounds sterile and non-sterile prescriptions.

In March, the Eastern Ohio Pharmacists Association drafted a letter requesting the state board to perform a compliance study. However, two members of the association refused to sign it. So the other members circulated a citizens petition and submitted it to the state board requesting it conduct such a study.

The board, however, has not and that is what prompted Carlson to file the unprecedented mandamus last Thursday, he says.

“I’ve been working in this industry for a long time, about 30 years,” Carlson, a past president of the Eastern Ohio Pharmacists Association, said Friday. He’s unaware of a pharmacist taking such action against a state board before.

“This is an extraordinary action, so it should go to the top of the docket,” he said.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy responded in an email that it could not comment on the case, citing it as an ongoing legal matter.

Carlson said action is required, now more than ever because the state is battling an opioid epidemic crisis. “About 70% of overdoses started with prescription drugs,” he said.

Pharmacists, he added, are often the “last line of defense” before a prescription can be filled.

The filing says that the matter has been brought to the court “with the belief that drug distribution laws are not being adhered to, that the Board of Pharmacy has been made aware of this through a professional association resolution and citizens’ petition, and that this matter is within the purview of the court to intercede to ensure public safety as well as the integrity of a professional in whom, by law, the trust of the people is placed.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.