Pharmacist Loses License for Online Pill Scheme

February 10, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

The New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy has suspended a pharmacist's license after discovering that he used an online scheme to dispense pills.

The New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy has suspended a pharmacist’s license after discovering that he used an online scheme to dispense pills.

According to acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, Peter J. Riccio will not be able to practice as a pharmacist for at least 5 years, and he will have to pay $45,000 in fines and $14,668.50 in legal costs in order to apply for reinstatement.

The online scheme involved patients filling out a questionnaire in order to obtain Fioricet, an addictive painkiller. From there, willing prescribers would provide prescriptions without actually seeing the patients.

According to MyCentralJersey.com, the questionnaire used yes-or-no questions and was hosted on a site that Riccio did not own or operate. The website’s operator would send the prescriptions—written by physicians who were often out-of-state—to Riccio, who would then fill them and send the drugs to the patient via mail or a carrier service, according to the federal indictment.

Riccio was the owner and pharmacist at Towne Pharmacy in Dunellen, New Jersey, before it was sold in 2014, according to NJ.com.

“This pharmacist chose to put profits ahead of public safety and professional integrity,” Hoffman said in NJ.com’s report. “He provided an addictive, dangerous, and often-abused drug to patients who had not actually been seen and evaluated by the unscrupulous doctors who allegedly wrote their prescriptions. I applaud the Board of Pharmacy for suspending his license.”

In addition to paying fines and legal costs, Riccio will have to pass an ethics course and the Pharmacist Assessment for Remediation Evaluation. He will also undergo a criminal history background check and appear before the pharmacy board before it considers reinstating his license.