AP NEWS

Pharmacists convicted in prescription scheme avoid prison

December 23, 2019 GMT

Two pharmacists who once worked for a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy blamed for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak have been sentenced for their roles in an unrelated scheme to ship medications without valid prescriptions using phony patient names.

Michelle Thomas, 35, of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and Kathy Chin, 47, of Canton, Massachusetts were sentenced last week, federal prosecutors said.

Thomas got a year of probation, while Chin was sentenced to two years of probation.

They were convicted in May of dispensing drugs without valid prescriptions with the intent to defraud or mislead government regulators.

They worked for the Framingham, Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center, blamed for the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 76 people and sickened hundreds of others.

The charges Thomas and Chin faced were not linked to the outbreak.

Chin and Thomas were verification pharmacists, signing off on drug orders prior to shipment, prosecutors said. Chin was convicted of approving shipments of drugs for patients with names such as Flash Gordon, Long John, and Tony Tiger. Thomas was convicted of approving shipments of drugs for patients with names such as L.L. Bean, Filet O’Fish and Harry Potter.

Their actions were meant to shield the company from oversight by the Food and Drug Administration, prosecutors said.