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Pharmacist guilty of drug-diversion taught pharmacy techs at Manchester college

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 12. 2018 9:45AM




MANCHESTER — Manchester Community College acknowledged Thursday that the person who led its certification program for pharmacy technicians was the former pharmacist who pleaded guilty to drug-diversion related charges this week in federal court.

Thomas Kellermann, 65, taught pharmacy technician certification classes at the college from September 2015 until last month, when he notified the college he would not return, said Shannon Reid, a spokesman for the Community College System of New Hampshire.

“Mr. Kellermann indicated that he was retired and no longer active as a practicing pharmacist. The position did not require an active license and he did not disclose the past disciplinary action,” Reid wrote in an email.

Kellermann, 65, appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday and admitted diverting for his personal use powerful narcotic painkillers that were intended for patients of hospices and other health care facilities, federal prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product and obtaining drugs by fraud. He returns to court May 9 for sentencing, and prosecutors will ask for a 1-to 2-year prison sentence, said John Farley, the acting U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire.

“This type of activity is a betrayal of the trust that patients place in the health care system,” Farley said in a statement. “Tampering and diversion not only can deprive patients of needed medicine but also can expose patients to other substantial health risks.”

Kellermann’s name is spelled both ways in Board of Pharmacy documents, and spelled with one ‘n’ in the MCC release. Farley said he signed his name as Kellermann.

Prosecutors say Kellermann worked at Critical Care Systems Pharmacy in Bedford, a pharmacy that specializes in supplying drugs to health care institutions and pharmacies.

In March 2012, he took medical leave, from his job. While on medical leave in March and April 2012, Kellermann used his employee key code to enter the company after hours, deactivate the alarm and steal narcotic pain medication for his personal use, prosecutors said.

Kellermann removed the plastic top of vials containing hydromorphone and morphine, inserted syringes into the vials, and withdrew drugs from the vials. He then injected saline into the vials and placed a small amount of glue on top of the vials to reattach the plastic caps.

He also took painkillers from IV bags, according to the charges against him. And he apparently used “wasted drugs,” the term health care facilities use for prescribed drugs for patients who no longer need them.

Farley said there is no way of knowing if Critical Care Systems actually sent out some of the diluted drugs. The diversion was discovered by an emploee who detected irregularities in certain vials of drugs. An independent laboratory found the suspected vials below their labeled strength.

In May 2012, Kellermann voluntarily surrendered his pharmacy license, according to online records from the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy. The license surrender settled unspecified disciplinary charges.

In a Sept. 26, 2017, press release, MCC identified Kellermann as a pharmacist and head instructor of the program, which was teaming up with CVS Health to launch the pharmacy technician certification program. He was paid $50 an hour, Reid said.

Reid said MCC did not intend to deceive when it sent out the news release and was unaware that Kellermann surrendered his license.

“The position did not require an active license and he did not disclose the past disciplinary action,” Reid said. “His role was limited to classroom instruction and he was never in a pharmacy setting as part of his teaching responsibilities for MCC.”

Pharmacist technician is not listed as a course of study on the MCC website, but Reid said the 12-week course will continue to be offered. The course prepares students to take the pharmacy technician certification board exam.

She said the Community College system will broaden “the circumstances under which we ask about any past disciplinary action with respect to licensed professions.”

mhayward@unionleader.com


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