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Kentucky Pharmacist Who Received High Amount Of Opioids Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges


  An eastern Kentucky pharmacist, whose business reportedly at one point received and handled the most opioids per person per county in the nation, has pleaded guilty to federal drug distribution charges.

In a release Tuesday, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky said Kent Shearer filled prescriptions of hydrocodone polistirex (a cough medicine containing opioids) and alprazolam (commonly sold as "Xanax"), or allowed employees to do so, that weren’t for a “legitimate medical purpose.”

The release said these prescriptions were prescribed for longer than recommended, and the prescriptions were often filled early. Shearer owned Shearer Drug in Albany, Kentucky. He pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances.

The Washington Post reported from 2006 to 2012 that Shearer Drug received the most opioids per person per county in the country, 6.8 million pills in total over that time period. The pharmacy received more than 1.1 million pain pills in 2012.

Prosecutors said they’ll seek a 15 month sentence with three years of supervised release. Shearer has also agreed to pay $200,000 to the federal government by his sentencing date on May 14.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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