ity Pharmacy closed
Thomas E. Strebel and Park City Pharmacy at the Clinic have been ordered to cease and desist dispensing controlled substances following a Monday emergency suspension hearing convened by the Utah Department of Commerce. Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., lights inside the pharmacy had been turned off and doors were locked. No sign had been posted to give clients directions or contacts for prescriptions and the phone number did not lead to a voicemail box. According to state Commerce Department public information officer Clark Caras, Strebel has 20 days to ask for an adjudicated hearing before an administrative judge to contest the cease and desist order. Until the commerce department rules otherwise, however, Strebel’s license and the license of the pharmacy itself will remain suspended.
"The emergency suspension hearing took place because of the need to take the public’s interest and safety into consideration," Caras said.
The action comes after Strebel’s arrest last Wednesday on charges that he billed insurance companies for medicines that were never prescribed. Federal authorities said last week that Strebel faces one count of insurance fraud, a second-degree felony, as well as witness tampering and extortion, two third-degree felonies. Strebel, 60, was booked into Summit County Jail, and later released on a $20,000 bail.
Park City Healthcare Family Health & Urgent Care Center insist other than renting space in the building on Bonanza Drive, the clinic has little to do with the operations of the pharmacy. Clinic patients are free to fill prescriptions wherever they choose.
The Commerce Department invited the Division of Professional Licensing, who oversees the licensing of pharmacists and pharmacies in Utah, and three professional pharmacists to vote during the emergency hearing, Caras said. "The three Utah pharmacists were not aware of the investigation, so today was the first time they had seen the evidence," he told The Park Record Monday afternoon. Caras declined to reveal what was presented since the hearing since the evidence was not public, and only concerned Mr. Strebel. The details of the case presented last week by the FBI allege Strebel once billed an insurer 55 times the price of asthma medication that a patient never used, charging $27,000. Last week, Brent Robbins, a special agent in the FBI’s Salt Lake City office reported a customer discovered billing inconsistencies and spoke with authorities. Robbins said that during the investigation, Strebel offered a woman $1,000 to keep the billing a secret.
After the charges were made, Robbins claims the authorities have received additional complains against the pharmacy for fraudulent billing. Though Strebel’s attorney attended the emergency hearing, Strebel himself was not present, according to Caras. Caras said he could not say what factors could clear Strebel and return his license, since Strebel has yet to appeal the decision. Monday, Caras claimed the pharmacy could be opened "as early as tomorrow" should the owner of the pharmacy find another licensed pharmacist in good standing.
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