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Oklahoma City's Reliable Pharmacy draws official scrutiny on narcotics sales

by Nolan Clay Published: March 12, 2012

Oklahoma County prosecutors suspect a small south Oklahoma City pharmacy has become a go-to place for addicts who want the most often-abused prescription drugs.

“It's apparent now that the word on the street is if you want certain types of prescription drugs, you can go to Reliable Pharmacy and get it,” District Attorney David Prater said Sunday.

The pharmacy is the same one that was thrust into the national spotlight in 2009 when an employee, pharmacist Jerome Ersland, fatally shot a robber there.

Ersland, 60, was convicted last year of first-degree murder. He is serving a life sentence.

Prosecutors and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control are asking a judge to let them get involved in a lawsuit between Reliable Discount Pharmacy and its distributor.

The prosecutors and the narcotics bureau want the judge to let the distributor cut off shipments to the pharmacy at 5900 S Pennsylvania Ave.

They have told the judge that the store over the last two years has sold more of the three most abused prescription drugs than a nearby Walmart, Walgreens and another store did combined.

Shipments suspended

The distributor, Cardinal Health Inc., suspended shipments of controlled substances to Reliable Discount Pharmacy on Feb. 1. The Ohio-based, $103 billion company determined there was “an unreasonable risk for potential diversion,” records show.

Reliable Discount Pharmacy sued the distributor Feb. 10. Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis the same day ordered the distributor to resume shipments for 45 days. She will decide later what happens after that.

The pharmacy's attorney told the judge the business should not have had its drug supply cut off because it is in compliance with all state and federal laws on the dispensing of controlled drugs and that it was “not being investigated for any violations currently.” The attorney insisted there were legitimate reasons for “red flags” about its drug sales.

Concerns addressed

The pharmacy also recently had changed its drug-handling policy to address the distributor's concerns and was putting in additional security cameras, its attorney, Patricia Anne Podolec, told the judge.

She told the judge the store serves low-income people who do not have insurance to cover prescriptions and who cannot afford the prices at the “chain” pharmacies.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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