(STL.News) – Hong Truong (54, Dunedin) has pleaded guilty to the unlawful distribution of oxycodone outside the scope of professional practice. Truong faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. She has agreed to a money judgment in the amount of $766,819 to the United States, representing the proceeds of her illegal drug distribution.
According to the plea agreement, Truong was a licensed pharmacist who owned and operated HP Pharmacy located in Pinellas Park, Florida. Under federal regulations, pharmacists registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration, such as Truong, were responsible for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substance prescriptions. At HP Pharmacy, Truong filled Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions for oxycodone and hydromorphone that were outside the usual course of professional practice and not issued for a legitimate medical purpose. In connection with these prescriptions, Truong ignored and failed to resolve red flags, in violation of her responsibility as a pharmacist. For example, in return for filling 30 mg oxycodone and 8 mg hydromorphone prescriptions, Truong charged and only accepted in cash, a higher-than-market-per-pill price – usually $5-6 per pill. Truong ordered a much higher volume of opiates for HP Pharmacy inventory than average in comparison to other Florida pharmacies and those across the United States. Further, Truong and the pharmacy tech she employed, Jessica Evans, falsely noted on the back of many prescriptions that the prescriptions had been verified with the prescriber’s office, when they had not. Evans has also pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme and is awaiting sentencing.
Truong also filled prescriptions for “opiate naïve” patients (those who had never been previously prescribed opiates) without consulting with the prescribing physician or the patient as to the diagnosis and need for the prescription. Many of Truong’s opiate patients were young, healthy-looking, and had traveled far distances to Truong’s small pharmacy in Pinellas Park, usually after visiting a prescribing physician located in Tampa.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Attorney’s Office’s Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit. The OFAD Unit focuses on opioid-related fraud and abuse by medical and health care professionals who have contributed to the prescription opioid epidemic. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelley Howard-Allen and Greg Pizzo.