The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

May 9, 2014

Pharmacist charged with theft of drugs

DANVILLE — A former hospital pharmacist replaced nearly 5,000 Oxycodone tablets with Tylenol tablets and also took drugs home from Jan. 16, 2013, to May 21, 2013, police said.

Amanda Kurtz, 32, of 1021 Bear Gap Drive, Elysburg, allegedly replaced the entire inventory of 4,494 tablets of the painkiller that should have been available for dispensing in Select pharmacy at Geisigner Medical Center, according to the charges.

Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder arraigned Kurtz and released her on $25,000 unsecured bail.

An inventory showed 33 bottles, each containing 100 Oxycodone tablets or a total of 3,300 tablets, had all Oxycodone tablets removed and replaced with Tylenol tablets. The Tylenol tablets appeared similar to the Oxycodone tablets, police said.

Investigators also found 1,394 Oxycodone tablets packaged in individual blister packs in preparation for placement in Select medication carts all filled with Tylenol. Blister packs are placed in the carts so nurses can give the medications to Select patients. Police said Kurtz had prepared and packaged the blister packs.

On May 20, staff at Select reported Kurtz appeared impaired. CEO Brian Mann spoke with her and she appeared drowsy, police said.

Kurtz called Select May 21 and reported she had struck guardrails with her car while driving to work and she would be late. When she arrived, Mann requested she submit to a drug screen in accordance with their employee policy.

Kurtz became upset when the drug screen was requested, telling Mann the test would come back “hot” because she had recently borrowed Oxycodone from a friend to self-medicate an old back injury, police said.

Mann then ordered the staff to do an audit of the hospital pharmacy.

An initial audit showed missing were 30 tablets of Provigil, 64 tablets of Methylphenidate Hydrochloride and 4,494 tablets of Oxycodone.

After Kurtz’s Jason Kurtz husband called Select May 22 to report his wife had been taken to Geisinger’s emergency department the previous night and admitted to the intensive care unit, Mahoning Township police obtained a search warrant for a drug test given Kurtz. It showed her positive for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and Oxycodone.

Mahoning Cpl. Chad Thomas received various drugs from Kurtz’s husband found in a drawer where she kept clothing and make-up. They included 542 tablets believed to be Oxycodone Hydrochloride, three tablets believed to be Promethazine Hydrochloride, 47 tablets believed to be Ondansetron, 46 tablets believed to be Promethazine Maleate and nine tablets believed to be Methylphenidate Hydrochloride.

A state police lab analysis found 542 tablets of Oxycodone and nine tables of Methylphenidate recovered by her husband, 394 blister packs labeled as Oxycodone removed from medication carts contained Acetaminophen, 33 bottles labeled as Oxycodone removed from the pharmacy were Acetaminopen and 800 blister packs labeled as Oxycodone removed from the pharmacy narcotic cabinet were Acetaminophen, police said.

Thomas and narcotics agent Duane Musser charged Kurtz with three counts of misrepresentation of a controlled substance, three counts of possessing controlled substances and two counts of misbranding controlled substances.

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