Federal Court issues temporary restraining order to prevent Tampa-area pharmacist from filling prescriptions | Takeover bid
A federal court has issued a temporary restraining order barring a Tampa-area pharmacist from filling prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances, the Justice Department announced today.
In a lawsuit filed Aug. 1 and unsealed today, the United States alleges that Nathaniel Esalomi illegally dispensed strong opioids by filling prescriptions he knew were invalid at Apexx Pharmacy in Hudson, Florida, from which he is the owner and the sole pharmacist. The complaint alleges that Esalomi charged significantly inflated prices to fill opioid prescriptions and accepted thousands of dollars in cash for the drugs. The complaint further alleges that Esalomi instructed individuals to forge signatures on certain forms and falsify addresses. The complaint also alleges that Esalomi filled numerous controlled substance prescriptions for deceased individuals.
“Pharmacists who knowingly fill invalid prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances are breaking the law and endangering our communities,” said Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the department’s civil division. of Justice. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to prosecute medical professionals who put profit before public safety.”
“The illegal distribution of opioids by medical professionals has caused serious harm to people in our communities and has led to a nationwide epidemic,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Central District. from Florida. “We are committed to using all available enforcement tools to arrest those whose unlawful actions and abandonment of job responsibilities fueled the opioid crisis.”
“In the midst of a deadly overdose epidemic in our country, combating the diversion of opioids and other controlled substances is a top priority for the DEA,” said Special Agent in Charge Deanne L. Reuter of the DEA field division in Miami. “The DEA remains true to its commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe and healthy.”
The temporary restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber of the U.S. District Court for the Intermediate District of Florida. The pending lawsuit seeks to permanently bar Esalomi from filling prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances, and from owning or overseeing a pharmacy.
The DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad from the Tampa District Office is leading the ongoing investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn B. Tapie and Attorneys Thomas S. Rosso and Scott B. Dahlquist of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch are handling the case.
The allegations made in the complaint are only allegations that the United States must prove if the case goes to trial.