Showing posts with label Bacterial Meningitis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bacterial Meningitis. Show all posts

Dead Witnesses: Druggist used pain patches to end his life / Walnut Creek pharmacist punished for tainted doses

This person is technically a witness to a potential criminal case.   

Druggist used pain patches to end his life / Walnut Creek pharmacist punished for tainted doses

Published 4:00 am, Friday, March 29, 2002
Despondent that he was facing punishment for a fatal meningitis (please read Meningitis as Murder Weapon) outbreak last year that was linked to his pharmacy, a young pharmacist committed suicide by overdosing himself with powerful painkiller patches, coroner's reports say.
Jamey Phillip Sheets, 32, who owned just under half of Doc's Pharmacy until it was sold last year, was discovered dead on Tuesday night by his wife, Michelle, when she returned to their Pleasant Hill home from a trip to Southern California that Sheets had refused to go on.
"Everyone is shocked by this," Sheets' attorney, John Francis Martin, said yesterday. "I really can't comprehend how desperate he must have been."
Michelle Sheets told authorities that her husband had been depressed over having his license suspended for 90 days beginning on Sunday, and over financial problems related to losing his co-ownership of Doc's, said Pleasant Hill Police Lt. Gary Ezell
According to state records, Sheets believed he was being unfairly blamed for the contaminated medication that killed three people.
Sheets had not made any suicide threats, and his wife was not worried that he'd harm himself while she traveled with their two young children to visit her mother in Oceanside, Ezell said.
"She felt that she'd allow him some space in the hopes that he'd be improved" when she returned, he said.
Instead, she found him dead in bed, with six high-dosage fentanyl patches on his neck and chest and an open can of beer nearby.
No suicide note was found. A woman at the Sheets' home yesterday said Michelle Sheets would not speak to reporters.
Fentanyl is a morphine derivative mainly used by patients with terminal cancer. The 100-milligram patch is the strongest made, and is designed to release the drug over 72 hours, said Ryan de Guzman, a pharmacist in Stockton who teaches at the University of the Pacific pharmacy school.
"I would imagine that it would be a peaceful way to knock yourself out, with no pain at all," de Guzman. "This is probably why he chose the route he did."
Although Sheets owned 49 percent of Doc's Pharmacy in Walnut Creek, most of the legal and administrative blame for the meningitis outbreak has been placed on his longtime co-owner, Robert Horwitz, a major proponent of compounding, or specially mixing medications.
Last May and June, three people died and 13 others were hospitalized after receiving spinal shots of a steroid called betamethasone mixed by Doc's Pharmacy technicians. The medicine, used to treat back pain, was not properly sterilized and was contaminated by a common bacterium.
Horwitz will lose his license for one year beginning Sunday. Sheets would have gotten his license back, with some restrictions, and then been on probation for five years. He also was ordered to pay $37,159 in investigation and prosecution costs.
Sheets had worked in the pharmacy of a Walnut Creek Safeway since August. Safeway had agreed to let him continue working in a non-pharmacy role during his suspension, Ezell said.
Sheets "wasn't happy with the result, but I didn't think he was despondent over it," his attorney said. "He had everything to live for and nothing to die for. He had a beautiful wife and two beautiful kids. He was a great young man. This was not something that would keep him back for long."
Sheets was an up-and-coming pharmacist when Horwitz, 62, recruited him with the promise that the younger man would eventually take over the business.
But Sheets, who had specialized in clinical work, had no experience in compounding medications or in retail pharmacy.
"I foolishly was led to believe that Doc's Pharmacy, being such a well- respected pharmacy and Dr. Horwitz being so well-revered by his colleagues, was following all practices to the letter of the law," he wrote the Board of Pharmacy after the meningitis tragedy.
Sheets had no direct involvement in compounding the tainted medicine, the reports say. He insisted to state officials that he could not be blamed because he had not been at the pharmacy when the drugs were compounded.
State officials found that Horwitz was ultimately responsible because he was the pharmacist in charge and established most of the pharmacy's practices.
"Mostly out of deference to and respect for Horwitz, he never thought to challenge established compounding procedures or to push hard for improved quality controls," officials found

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