Drug deaths lure two state AGs to file pharmacy suit

Rob Luke Dec. 13, 2007, 7:28am

Greg Abbott

AUSTIN -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers landed a one-two punch on a Dallas-based drug maker and distributor in a drug-potency lawsuit.

The two AGs claimed a highly potent, unauthorized painkilling drug made and distributed by Apothecure, Inc. caused the deaths of two users in Oregon and a third in nearby Washington.

Abbott's announcement Dec.11 accused Apothecure, also described as a pharmacy, of breaching federal and state laws over its Colchicine formulation, recommended for back pain, which he charged was made eight times stronger than regular strength. He also charged Apothecure with unlawfully making drugs not approved by the FDA.

"Apothecure's actual activities exceed the pharmacy's authorized scope of practice, crossing the line into prescription drug manufacturing," Abbott's release stated.

Myers' announcement charged that Apothecure "unlawfully sold dangerous prescription drugs in Oregon" by shipping 31 vials of mislabeled Colchicine to Oregon customers at much greater potency than indicated. "[C]ompounding pharmacies [like Apothecure] operate in a grey area between the practice of pharmacy and business of drug manufacturing," Myers stated.

The Oregon AG's lawsuit against Apothecure claimed that the stronger injectable drug shipment caused "at least" three deaths. The Oregon Board of Pharmacy notice has also proposed a civil penalty of $500,000.

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