|ABERDEEN – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and the Aberdeen Township Police Department today announced the arrest of a pharmacist accused of creating false prescription information in order to fraudulently obtain a weight-loss drug known to have a high potential for abuse.
Joseph A. Chiodo, Jr., 62, of Morganville, a licensed pharmacist, was employed at the Stop & Shop Pharmacy at 1137 Lloyd Road, Aberdeen when, on two separate occasions, he allegedly created fraudulent prescriptions for the diet drug phentermine. On both occasions he allegedly created false entries in the pharmacy’s electronic log, took phentermine pills from the pharmacy, and mailed them to a friend. The most recent occasion was in March 2012.
Aberdeen Township Police arrested Chiodo on December 6 at the Aberdeen Police Department, following a joint investigation with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau. Chiodo is charged with two counts of obtaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance by fraud, two counts of unlawful distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and two counts of unlawful possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance. All are third-degree crimes.
The New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP) was central to the discovery of Chiodo’s alleged crime. The NJPMP is a powerful database, maintained by the Division of Consumer Affairs, to track the prescription sale in New Jersey of all drugs classified as Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) or Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Phentermine is classified under state and federal law as a Schedule IV Controlled Dangerous Substance – a drug that has an accepted medical use, but if misused may lead to physical or psychological dependence.
“The NJPMP is working exactly as it should. It helps identify healthcare practitioners who violate the law and their code of ethics by making dangerous drugs available for abuse. It also helps honest prescribers protect themselves against fraud, and ensure that their prescription authority is not being used fraudulently,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “Access to this database is available free of charge to all prescribers and pharmacists who are duly licensed in New Jersey, and we strongly encourage all of them to sign up for its use.”
Licensed prescribers and pharmacists may register for access to the NJPMP, free of charge, by following the instructions at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/pmp. Pursuant to statute, NJPMP data is also available to law enforcement agencies to help root out the illegal diversion and abuse of prescription drugs
“Pharmacists are trusted with medications that can cause great harm if used irresponsibly,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Any healthcare practitioner who violates the law and puts the public’s health and safety at risk, should know we will use the NJPMP and all tools at our disposal to find them, stop them, and bring them before the law.”
Chief John Powers of the Aberdeen Township Police Department said, “Prescription drug abuse has grown at epidemic rates in New Jersey and across America. It sends thousands of New Jersey residents into addiction treatment centers each year, and kills 40 Americans per day. Our commitment to stop prescription fraud is a commitment to protect New Jersey’s public health and safety.”
Following his arrest, Chiodo was released on two summonses.
These criminal charges are only accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
For much more information on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs' initiative to halt the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, view the Division's NJPMP website at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/pmp, and the Division's Project Medicine Drop website at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/meddrop.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook, and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events.