MISSING PILLS: Board of Pharmacy Hearing

A Des Moines pharmacist is accused of abusing his position. An audit shows hundreds of thousands of prescription painkillers disappeared on his watch. Mark Graziano is charged with violating Iowa’s rules for controlled substances. Last May, the state suspended his license and his pharmacy’s ability to sell certain drugs.

Tuesday, at a State Board of Pharmacy hearing, Kirby Small says Mark Graziano supplied him with drugs.

“I was doing a lot of pills at the time,” he says.

Small sometimes went with a friend to pick up hydrocodone tablets at Bauder Pharmacy. He told the Iowa Pharmacy Board he tipped off the state when Graziano cut him off.

“He threatened me many times with bodily harm,” says Small.

Graziano is facing a laundry list of 27 charges. The state agency in charge of overseeing the distribution and dispensing of prescriptions is accusing Bauder Pharmacy of nearly as many.

“The most significant counts relate to the complete lack of accountability for substantial amounts of hydrocodone medication and other controlled substances,” says Assistant Attorney General Theresa Weeg.

From 2008 to 2012, an audit shows Graziano ordered more than a million tablets of hydrocodone. During that same time, the board’s compliance officer says 740,888 tablets are unaccounted for.

“That would be expensive to maintain that high of back stock of inventory on a recurring basis without having the sales to support it,” says Jean Rhodes.

“One of the key linchpins in ensuring that the public is protected from the effects of the abuse of prescription medication is the pharmacy and is the pharmacist,” says Weeg.

The hearing will resume Wednesday morning. The board will issue a ruling on Graziano’s license and Bauder Pharmacy’s license within the next one to two months.

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