DOJ Blocks Pharmacy from Opioid Prescriptions

A suit was filed alongside a temporary restraining order in the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division on Monday by plaintiff the United States of America against a pharmacist. The complaint, which cites violations of the Controlled Substances Act, alleges that the plaintiff used his position as owner and operator of Apexx Pharmacy to fuel and profit from the opioid epidemic by “repeatedly dispensing powerful opioids prone to abuse.”

The restraining order prevents the pharmacist, Nathaniel Esalomi, from filling prescriptions for opioids and other regulated substances. The opioid epidemic is described in the complaint as a national public health emergency, which the defendant exacerbated by prescribing opioid painkillers “without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.”

The complaint specifically claimed that Esalomi “unlawfully distributed powerful opioids by filling prescriptions he knew were not valid at Apexx Pharmacy in Hudson, Florida, where he is the owner and sole pharmacist.” Esalomi allegedly charged customers dramatically inflated prices and accepted thousands of dollars in cash payment for the drugs. Further, he filled prescriptions for customers who were deceased and encouraged his living customers to forge their signatures and falsify their addresses in an effort to mask the misconduct.

Roger B. Handberg, a U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said of the suit “The illegal distribution of opioids by medical professionals has caused great harm to people in our communities, and has led to a nationwide epidemic. We are committed to using every enforcement tool available to stop those individuals whose unlawful actions and abandonment of their professional responsibilities have fueled the opioid crisis.”

The restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber. Its accompanying pending complaint cites three distinct violations of the Controlled Substances Act (civil penalty liability and permanent injunctive relief). The complaint also seeks an injunction preventing Esalomi from filling prescriptions for opioids and other regulated substances as well as operating or owning a pharmacy permanently, civil penalties, litigation fees, and any other relief deemed just by the Ccurt.