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Judge won't delay pharmacist license revocation

05-Jul-2008: A judge has refused to delay revocation of Steve Holtel's pharmacist license while Holtel appeals the state's decision to take the license.

Judge L. Alan Goldsberry of Athens County Common Pleas Court ruled the Nelsonville pharmacist failed to show that a stay of the revocation is warranted. Goldsberry's decision cannot be appealed.

This spring, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy permanently revoked Holtel's license on grounds that he improperly filled thousands of prescriptions on the Internet. Holtel has appealed the board's decision to common pleas court, and asked Goldsberry to stay the revocation while the appeal is pending. A hearing on the stay request was held June 27.

Goldsberry said several factors should be considered in deciding whether to grant such a stay, including whether it will cause harm to others.

"...The sheer number of allegedly improper prescriptions leads to the conclusion that significant potential for harm to others exists if (Holtel) is allowed to practice pharmacy pending this appeal," Goldsberry ruled.

In arguing against the stay, Assistant Attorney General Sally Ann Steuk had pointed out that exhibits at the pharmacy board hearing indicated that Holtel's pharmacy improperly filled more than 8,000 Internet prescriptions representing more than 800,000 unit doses of dangerous drugs and controlled substances. Although Goldsberry considered that argument, he also pointed out that he had not yet seen what evidence backs up that assertion.

Holtel had argued that he stopped filing prescriptions on the Internet several months before the pharmacy board investigation.

At the June court hearing, Holtel tried to make the case that failure to secure the stay would cause him financial hardship because of the added expense of hiring another pharmacist for Stoltz Drug or paying overtime, and because the store hours might have to be reduced.

Goldsberry ruled that all revocations or suspensions cause hardship, but that Holtel had failed to show it would be to the degree that would justify a stay.

Another factor to be considered, Goldsberry said, is whether the public would benefit from a stay.

At the hearing, Holtel testified that Stoltz Drug provides services to the public beyond filling prescriptions, specifically mentioning breathing devices. Goldsberry said Holtel failed to explain why that service would have to discontinue if no stay were granted.

Another factor, Goldsberry said, is whether Holtel will likely succeed in his appeal of the revocation. Goldsberry ruled that Holtel "does not address this factor," other than stating that the pharmacy board decision was not unanimous.

Source: Athens Messenger

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