Internet Pharmacy Scheme Sends Pharmacist to Prison

Pharmacist jailed for providing prescription drugs to individuals who did not see a physician or have valid prescriptions.

Pharmacist jailed for providing prescription drugs to individuals who did not see a physician or have valid prescriptions.

A New Jersey pharmacist has been sentenced to prison for 3 years for illegal online pharmacy dealings.

Between 2008 and 2012, Lena Lasher, 47, provided addictive pain medications and other prescription drugs to individuals who did not see a physician or have valid prescriptions, according to the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

In addition to her online pharmacy transactions, Lasher was also pharmacist-in-charge of a store in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, and a supervisor for Palmer Pharmacy and Much More in Easton, Pennsylvania.

She instructed employees at these pharmacies to ship products with false or misleading labels. For example, instructions on how often to take the drugs and the amount of pills in a vial were often incorrect.

Lasher also reused and repackaged pills returned by customers or delivery services. Medications were also stored without information such as lot number or expiration date, according to the US attorney’s office.

“Lena Lasher abused her position as a licensed pharmacist by dispensing prescription drugs to customers without valid prescriptions and customers who had never consulted with a physician,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press release. “Prescription drugs, especially the pain medications that Lasher dispensed, can be addictive and dangerous, and this office is committed to prosecuting those who illegally dispense prescription drugs.”

The US attorney’s office also noted Lasher’s attempts to hide what she was doing, such as asking her employees to use code words for the Internet pharmacy scheme.

For example, pharmacy employees were told to use “nursing home meds” to refer to the drugs that they were shipping illegally to online customers. Employees were also not allowed to use the word “Internet” when talking about the pharmacies’ business.

Lasher also made false representations to several state boards of pharmacy and to an investigator, according to the US attorney’s office. After Lasher serves her prison term, she will face 2 years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $2.5 million in forfeiture.