WA: Nurse Sentenced to Federal Prison for Adulterating and Misbranding Pain Medications

Nurse allegedly adulterated and misbranded three vials and seventy-nine carpujects of pain medication that were intended for patients.

Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Cory J. Riehart, age 32, of Omak, Washington, was sentenced in the United States District Court after pleading guilty in July 2017 to Adulterating a Drug and to Misbranding a Drug with the Intent to Defraud or Mislead. United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastion sentenced Riehart to a 27-month term of imprisonment and a one-year term of court supervision following release from Federal prison. The Judge also ordered Riehart to pay $1,230 in restitution. Riehart has been in custody since July 21, 2017.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, while working as a registered nurse at a local hospital, Riehart adulterated and misbranded three vials and seventy-nine carpujects of pain medication that were intended for patients. A carpuject is a syringe device for the administration of injectable fluid medications. Riehart removed morphine and hydromorphone directly from the carpujects and vials, refilled the carpujects and vials with saline solution, and then returned the refilled, misbranded and adulterated medications to the hospital’s locked narcotics drawers outside the nurse’s station and emergency room. Hospital staff discovered the adulterated and misbranded medications during routine narcotics counts, removed the drugs to the Pharmacy and notified the Republic, Washington Police Department. Subsequent chemical analysis by the DEA confirmed that the pain medications had been adulterated and misbranded because they contained less than one-tenth of one percent of the volume of controlled substance specified on the drug manufacturer label for each medication.

Acting United States Attorney Harrington said, “Adulterating pain medications intended for patients seeking treatment in a hospital is not only a breach of the public’s trust in the medical profession, but is a callous disregard of basic human compassion for people suffering pain. The United States Attorney’s Office in this District has and will prosecute aggressively any such criminal conduct.”

“Putting patients and their treatment at risk is never acceptable,” said Lisa Malinowski, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Los Angeles Field Office. “The FDA will continue to pursue all individuals, including health care workers, who adulterate and misbrand drugs.”

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Food and drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; DEA and the Republic, Washington Police Department. The case was prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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