As a Pharmacy Technician, your pharmacy technician practice is closely monitored by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s (PTCB) Code of Conduct for Pharmacy Technicians and by Federal laws and the laws of your state and locality. Failure to abide by these regulations and codes can result in censure, suspension or even revocation of your Pharmacy Technician certificate. These violations can eventually even lead to the loss of your career as a Pharmacy Technician and a criminal conviction leading to prison time and substantial fines. Read on to learn about important laws that govern Pharmacy Technician Practice.
PTCB Code of Conduct – Responsibilities Relating to Legal Requirements
According to the PTCB’s code of conduct, all applicants for certification as Pharmacy Technicians or those seeking re-certification must abide by all state, local and federal laws and regulations related to Pharmacy Technician practice.
Applicants for PTCB Pharmacy Technician Certification or those currently certified or those seeking recertification must refrain from violations of any local, state or Federal criminal laws, regulations or rules.
Violations of State Statutes
Pharmacy Technicians who violate Drug Laws which prohibit the illegal possession of and distribution and sale of controlled substances can face prosecution by state and local prosecutors and by the United States Department of Justice.
California H & S Code 11351
As an example, in California, CA H & S Code 11351 makes it a felony to possess controlled substances with the purpose and intent to sell them.
CA H & S 11351 covers controlled prescription drugs like Tylenol with Codeine (Tylenol $3), Vicodin (Hydrocodone) and OxyContin (Oxycodone) and Valium.
If convicted of violating California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS, a defendant could be punished with two to four years in jail and/or a maximum fine of $20,000.
Also, those convicted under H & S 11351 are not eligible for a drug treatment program instead of jail time.
CA H & S Code 11352
CA H & S Code 11352 prohibits the transport of controlled substances for the purpose of sale and distribution. Quoting the statute:
“(a) Except as otherwise provided in this division, every person who transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give away, or attempts to import into this state or transport (1) any controlled substance specified in subdivision (b), (c), or (e), or paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, specified in paragraph (14), (15), or (20) of subdivision (d) of Section 11054, or specified in subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11055, or specified in subdivision (h) of Section 11056, or (2) any controlled substance classified in Schedule III, IV, or V which is a narcotic drug, unless upon the written prescription of a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian licensed to practice in this state, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for three, four, or five years.
(b) Notwithstanding the penalty provisions of subdivision (a), any person who transports any controlled substances specified in subdivision (a) within this state from one county to another noncontiguous county shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for three, six, or nine years.
(c) For purposes of this section, “transports” means to transport for sale.
(d) This section does not preclude or limit the prosecution of an individual for aiding and abetting the commission of, or conspiring to commit, or acting as an accessory to, any act prohibited by this section.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 54, Sec. 7. (SB 1461) Effective January 1, 2015.)”
An example of Diversion of Narcotics by a Pharmacy Technician While Working in a Pharmacy in California
It is useful to examine an actual case of a Pharmacy Technician working at a CVS Pharmacy in Gilroy, California who was caught diverting large amounts of narcotics..
AR was a Pharmacy Technician whose main job was to “track the delivery of various drugs” to the pharmacy in Gilroy, California.
An internal CVS audit at the pharmacy revealed that many thousands of narcotic pain pills were missing from inventory.
This loss was reported to the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement which began an investigation into the actions of AR.
AR admitted to a CVS loss prevention officer that instead of ensuring proper delivery of various narcotics to her pharmacy she was pilfering drugs to sell on the street and had indeed stolen some 40,000 Vicodin (Hydrocodone) over a period of 10 months in 2009.
A search warrant was then served on AR at her residence and the following items were seized:
- 1,134 Vicodin tablets
- 305 Diazepam (Valium)
- 212 Darvon
- 62 Ativan
- 9 Lidocaine Patches
AR was charged with 10 felonies (https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/former-pharmacy-tech-and-husband-charged-embezzling-40000-vicodin-tablets-local)
- 5 individual felony counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell
- 4 counts of transporting a controlled substance
- 1 count of embezzlement
The criminal statutes violated included:
- H & S (Health and Safety) Code 11352 – These felonies involved the sale and transportation and offer to sell controlled substances which were namely Darvon, Darvocet, Acetaminophen with codeine and Hydrocodone.
- These controlled substances were valued at $400,000 and were supplied to AR’s husband who was a drug dealer. He was charged with the same felonies for the sale and transportation and offer to sell controlled substances along with Felony violation of Section 496 (a) of the Penal code for receiving stolen property, to wit, pills that he knew were stolen and obtained by “extortion.”
In another case in Florida, a Pharmacy Technician was fired by CVS after admitting to stealing 15,000 pills from 7 different CVS Pharmacies in Indiana. The medications stolen included narcotic pain killers, anti-anxiety pills and sleeping pills with a total value of more than $55,000.
Pharmacy practice in all states is regulated by state and federal laws and regulations especially regarding controlled substances. Pharmacy Technicians must be acutely aware at all times that they are required by law to adhere to the highest ethical and moral standards in order to avoid extreme criminal penalties that can end their careers and take away their freedom.