Federal authorities are investigating a years-long series of drug thefts at Dallas’ Parkland Health & Hospital System that put hundreds of thousands of painkillers and tranquilizers in the hands of street dealers, the Dallas Morning News reports. Parkland says it moved quickly when it discovered the problem in 2007, alerting regulators and terminating some employees. Among those fired was a supervising pharmacist who allegedly warned subordinates that hospital police were investigating.
Five pharmacy technicians also were fired. Two of them, who face theft and organized crime charges, plan to plead guilty this week in exchange for probationary sentences. State regulators’ records say that at the hospital system’s pharmacy, more than a third of the hydrocodone painkiller tablets disappeared over a nine-month period. And 60 percent of the tranquilizer diazepam – better known by the brand name Valium – vanished in one year at another pharmacy. In total, about 370,000 tablets could not be accounted for during the survey period. The black-market value of that loss would be roughly $1 million, say Justice Department estimates of the street value of such pills.