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Channel 11 investigates increase in local pharmacist violations



PITTSBURGH - A Channel 11 investigation uncovered a spike in the number of pharmacists being disciplined in Pennsylvania.

Channel 11’s Courtney Brennan spent weeks digging through the data from the State Pharmacy Board and found that in 2012-2013, there were 106 sanctions taken against pharmacists, the highest in five years.

"They're looking at any type of violation to the law or regulations that could occur and disciplinary actions taken if it needs to be done," said Pat Eppel, president of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.

The state board monitors the licenses of 3,297 pharmacists in the state.

"They exist for protecting the public,” said Eppel. “Their primary and almost only reason for existing is to make sure patients are protected in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Our investigation also uncovered two pharmacists in Western Pennsylvania who were convicted of crimes who still had their license.

A Fayette County pharmacist is under house arrest for selling drugs to an undercover police informant.

Another pleaded guilty to smuggling misbranded drugs into the U.S.

Both had their licenses suspended but not revoked by the board.

The state board rarely revokes a license, having done so only 10 times in the past five years.

We reached out to board to find out why, but they would not say.

Joseph Bettinger owns Hieber Pharmacy in Oakland and has never been cited by the board.

He passed another inspection this past year and believes the board works to protect him and his customers. 

“I want to protect the public, I want to protect my employees and I want to know what it is I need to do," he said

So far this year, the pharmacy board fielded 654 complaints, up from last year's number of 477.

If you have a concern about a pharmacist you can file a complaint online.

You can also call the Pennsylvania Department of State Professional Compliance Office at 800-822-2113.