Kentucky

‘Glaring red flags.’ Kentucky pharmacist sentenced to prison for illegally dispensing drugs.

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More than half a million people died between 2000 and 2015 from opioid use. In 2017 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency. We examine what happens to the human body on opioids.

A former pharmacist in Williamsburg has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison after being convicted of illegally dispensing drugs.

Kimberly Jones, 53, also must pay a $5,000 fine.

Jones operated Kim’s Hometown Pharmacy in Williamsburg from about 2008 to 2018, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr.

A jury acquitted Jones on most of the charges against her, but convicted her on seven charges related to illegally dispensing drugs.

In some cases, Jones gave drugs to people who didn’t have a prescription at the time.

In letters to U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, supporters described Jones as a hard-working, compassionate woman who supported local schools and adopted a little girl so that the child wouldn’t have to go into foster care.

One person said she’d seen Jones cry because a doctor prescribed a drug that an elderly person couldn’t afford.

But a prosecutor argued that Jones ignored “glaring red flags” that her pharmacy was contributing to the region’s drug problem.

Those included prescriptions from groups of people who traveled together to clinics outside Kentucky to get prescriptions, then took them to Jones’ pharmacy to fill.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, of the 21.5 million Americans 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain pills.

Some of the charges against Jones related to a man who went from Williamsburg to 18 cities in five other states between 2010 and 2017 to get prescriptions, then filled them at Jones’ pharmacy.

Jones continued filling prescriptions from suspicious providers in other states after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned her about specific doctors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Smith said in a sentencing memorandum.

“Pharmacists should act as gatekeepers, not enablers,” Smith said in the memo. “But too many professionals like Jones have been complicit in their patients’ addictions, and our district, like many others across the country, is now grappling with the consequences.”

Jones has been in jail since being convicted in February. Van Tatenhove sentenced her Tuesday in federal court in London.

Jones will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

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