An Oelwein pharmacist has been put on 60-day notice to comply with orders from the Iowa Board of Pharmacy or face suspension of his license.
Kurt Schuchmann, pharmacist in charge at Schuchmanns’ Pharmacy Inc., in Oelwein, has been charged with nine violations of the Iowa Code chapters 17A 124, 155A, and 272C, and 657 IAC chapters 10 and 36.
In November 2017, the pharmacy underwent a routine inspection and deficiencies were discovered including cluttered, disorderly and dirty areas; a refrigerator had food stored along with medications, and the pharmacy lacked physical barriers to prevent unauthorized access and unregistered personnel into the pharmacy.
Additionally, the inspection revealed the pharmacy did not have a continuous quality improvement program in place, had expired drugs located in the current inventory, and an annual inventory of controlled substances was not performed within the appropriate timeframe.
According to public documents from the Iowa Board of Pharmacy website, Schuchmann had not submitted corrective actions to the deficiencies as of April 2018, and was visited by a board compliance officer.
Schuchmann readily spoke with the Daily Register Friday saying he has made several changes since the orders were filed in July and feels he will be fully compliant in the timeframe given. In response to the matter of expired drugs among the inventory, Schuchmann explained he is the third generation pharmacist in the family business and among the many antiquities he has kept as memories of the past was an amber jar of salve. It had been on a shelf near where current medicines were also lined up.
“It dates back to 1917, so you know it was just something I kept, but did not dispense it. But it was sitting on a shelf near current inventory so it was written up,” he said. He has since rearranged things and created a vintage apothecary display away from the inventory area.
Schuchmann also explained that he and other employees kept their lunches in sealed containers in the same refrigerator that his refrigerated medicine inventory was stored, although on separate shelves. He has since purchased a small separate refrigerator for staff lunches.
Likewise, filled prescriptions waiting to be picked up have been moved to the secure area of the pharmacy that is locked up every night.
“I think the main thing I want to ensure customers is that despite the headlines, outdated drugs are not being dispensed,” Schuchmann said. “We buy around $100,000 of fresh drugs every month. Every pharmacy has some drugs that expire unused. We remove them from stock and return them for credit like everybody else.”
Schuchmann said with thousands of drugs on the shelves they have occasionally missed seeing an expiration date for a while, but regardless, when it comes to dispensing, the first thing he looks at is the expiration date on the container.
“We would not dispense anything outdated. In fact, expired drugs are normally ones that we have stopped using anyhow because of changes in demand,” he said.
Additionally, Schuchmann said the store’s over-the-counter drugs that expire are also removed and returned for credit.
Schuchmann said the inspection and charges came at him about the same time he was going through a personal medical issue that he had “let go” for too long and it became serious to the point that he was not able to perform his pharmacist’s duties fully. He confessed that some things were not kept current as they should have been, but now that he sought medical attention and is feeling much better, he is working day and night to catch everything up for the board.
Schuchmann is also looking for a fulltime pharmacist to be in charge of the pharmacy while he complies with the suspension orders to be levied from the state pharmacy board, which include a $2,500 fine.
“I can still work, I just won’t be in charge. I have been considering retirement for a few years, but felt keeping the doors open and people employed was more important,” he said.
“It is a constant battle, but you should not be concerned,” Schuchmann wrote in a special release for customers and area medical providers.
“We are still in business and doing our best to get through this storm. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions,” he said.