2020 ended and 2021 began with a breaking new story about a Wisconsin pharmacist that intentionally compromised hundreds of doses of the precious, vital coronavirus vaccine. Fortunately, what could have resulted in serious drug injury to multiple people was avoided in this case.
For reasons yet to be disclosed (or perhaps even known), a pharmacist in Grafton (a suburb of Milwaukee) intentionally ruined hundreds of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by removing the injectable drug from required refrigeration for two successive nights. The damaged pharmaceutical was the Moderna vaccine, one of due products currently available in the United States to protect the public from COVID-19.
The errant pharmacist was arrested over the New Year holiday and arrested on suspicion of a number of felony charges:
- Reckless endangerment
- Adulterating a prescription drug
- Criminal damage to property
The pharmacist has been fired by his employer, Advocate Aurora Health Care. He is jailed at this time. His name has not yet been released by the Grafton Police Department because formal charges are pending. The pharmacist is likely to appear before a local judge shortly, perhaps even over the long holiday weekend.
As mentioned, the underlying motivation of the pharmacist in damaging the vaccinations is not yet clear. Law enforcement maintains that the pharmacist was well aware that the spoiled doses of the Moderna vaccine would be useless. The man knew that anyone who received the adulterated vaccine would mistakenly believe that they had received COVID-19 protection.
A spokesperson for the pharmacist’s employer, Advocate Aurora Health Care spoke to reporters at a teleconference on New Year’s Eve. He reported that a total of 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine were removed from refrigeration on the evenings of December 24 and 25.
The Moderna vaccine can be stored at lower temperatures than its Pfizer counterpart. With that said, the Moderna vaccina only remains viable for 12 hours outside of refrigeration. The vials contain enough doses of the vaccination to inoculate about 570 individuals.
The culprit appears to have returned the vials to the refrigeration unit the following mornings, evidently hoping his efforts to spoil the vaccine doses would go undetected by anyone else. A pharmacy technician discovered the unrefrigerated vials on the morning of December 26.
The Wisconsin incident involving the coronavirus vaccine hearkens back to the notorious case of a Kansas City pharmacist who owned two pharmacies on both sides of the Missouri River. He was convicted for diluting some 98,000 injectable prescriptions that were administered by 400 to 4,200 cancer patients. The dilution process allowed the ultimately convicted pharmacist Robert Courtney to illicitly save a significant amount of money on these cancer drugs at the expense of the health and welfare of cancer patients.
Courtney recently garnered media and public attention when he was almost released to a halfway house and then home detention well before his scheduled 2027 release date as a result of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons decision to remove some inmates out of confinement because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to a strong public outcry, this federal prison decision to release the convicted pharmacist was reversed.
Cases like these underscore that incidents do occur each and every year in which innocent patients are put at risk of serious and even fatal drug injury as the result of the negligent, reckless, and even intentional misconduct of pharmacist, doctors, and other healthcare workers. If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of pharmaceutical incident, a drug injury lawyer from The Doan Law Firm stands ready to fight for you.
You can connect with a Doan Law Firm drug injury lawyer any time of the day or night by calling us at (800) 349-0000. We are a nationwide law firm, with drug injury attorneys located across the country. We can schedule an initial consultation and case evaluation at any one of our offices at no charge or online via a virtual appointment. There is not charge for an initial consultation or case evaluation.
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