The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has issued a statement condemning any purposeful act by a pharmacist that may harm patients, including the intentional destruction of usable coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines.1

The announcement follows news reports that a Wisconsin pharmacist was arrested after he allegedly inappropriately removed 57 vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from cold storage at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, WI, part of the Advocate Aurora Health system. According to Advocate Aurora Health, about 570 doses of the vaccine were lost, and the pharmacist is no longer employed with the health system.2

According to the Grafton Police Department, which handled the arrest, the value of the spoiled doses was estimated to be between $8000 and $11,000. The unnamed individual was arrested on recommended charges of First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Adulterating a Prescription Drug, and Criminal Damage to Property. All 3 charges are felonies.3

The individual admitted in a written statement to Aurora Health public safety officials that the vaccine was intentionally removed from proper storage and the individual knew lack of proper storage would render these doses ineffective. According to Grafton Police detectives, 57 spoiled doses had been administered to people. The arrested individual indicated he knew the recipients believed they were receiving protection against COVID-19 but were unknowingly receiving “useless” vaccines instead.3

The name of the individual is currently being held by the Grafton Police Department, pending formal charges. The individual was incarcerated on December 31, 2020 at the Ozaukee County Jail in Wisconsin.3

ASHP officials said the organization plans to issue additional guidance on COVID-19 vaccine distribution and storage in the coming days.1


REFERENCES
 
  1. ASHP Statement on the Arrest of Wisconsin Pharmacist [news release]. Bethesda, MD; January 1, 2021: ASHP. Accessed January 4, 2021. https://www.ashp.org/news/2021/01/01/ashp-statement-on-the-arrest-of-wisconsin-pharmacist
  2. Update on Aurora Medical Center – Grafton vaccines. Advocate Aurora Health. Published December 31, 2020. Accessed January 4, 2021. https://www.advocateaurorahealth.org/news/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-updates-from-advocate-aurora-health
  3. Grafton Police Arrest Pharmacist for Intentionally Destroying Multiple Vials of the COVID-19 Vaccinations at Advocate Aurora Health Hospital in Grafton [news release] Grafton, WI; December 31, 2020: Grafton Police Department.