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Tennessee pharmacy investigation may lead to criminal charges

Tennessee, along with many other states in the region, is facing a crisis. While many social and economic problems divide along class or geographic lines, the matter of drug abuse is almost universal. And a pair of pharmacies in north central Tennessee may be providing more than their share of the problem.

Clay County, home to around 8,000 people, dispenses opioid prescriptions at a rate high enough to provide sufficient pain killers to everyone in the county twice. That is more than three time the national average. Only ten other counties in the United States dispense as many opioids. Federal investigators suspect two of the county's five pharmacies are honoring prescription they should not.

The pattern has been observed before by federal prosecutors. Pharmacists or pharmacy technicians dispense opioids without valid prescriptions and bill Medicare accounts to net the pharmacy a profit. In this case, a federal lawsuit alleges that the two pharmacies in Clay County netted more than $2 million from these practices.

A federal judge granted the government's request for a restraining order to keep the pharmacies from dispensing further controlled medications. One pharmacist is already facing criminal charges and more people may be implicated.

People facing criminal charges related to complex investigations may have options if they can provide important insights to prosecutors or the government cannot prove a tenuous connection to a criminal enterprise. An attorney is a very important ally at all times when a person is facing criminal charges or may be a person of interest in an investigation.

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