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Reno, Nevada

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Steven J. Klearman
Steven J. Klearman
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No duty for pharmacy to cut off drug abuser’s prescriptions, says Nevada District Court

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The Las Vegas Sun reports an interesting facet to the continuing problem with prescription drug abuse in Nevada.

Patricia Copening served nine months in jail after driving under the influence of hydrocodone, hitting two victims who were changing a flat tire at the side of the road.  

Copening’s doctors and pharmacies are now being sued by the victims’ families.  

The pharmacies were recently dismissed from the case. 

The victims’ theory was that the pharmacies are liable for the victims’ damages after continuing to fill Copening’s prescriptions after being notified of her drug abuse.  Copening’s doctors and pharmacies had been notified about a year prior to the accident of her potential drug abuse, by the Prescription Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force.  (Recall from a previous blog that Nevada was the first to implement a drug tracking program to prevent “doctor shopping.”)

However, the District Court Judge said that Nevada’s law doesn’t impose a legal duty for pharmacists to take specific action after being notified that a particular patient is a suspected drug user.