Wichita pharmacist sentenced for illegally filling opioid prescriptions

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Ebube Otuonye Ebube Otuonye
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A Wichita pharmacist has been sentenced for unlawfully dispensing prescription opioid drugs. 

A news release from US Attorney Stephen McAllister says 47-year-old Ebube Otuonye was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison after being convicted on charges of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute prescription drugs, unlawfully distributing prescription drugs and health care fraud. 

The crimes happened while Otuonye owned and operated Neighborhood Pharmacy located at 2801 East 21st Street, where he filled prescriptions for patients of Dr. Steven R. Henson. 

In March of 2019, Henson was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of unlawfully distributing prescription drugs without a legitimate medical purpose. 

During the trial, evidence showed that Henson's patients had trouble filling prescriptions at pharmacies other than Neighborhood Pharmacy. Otuonye's pharmacy charged more and set up a system that required Henson's patients to fill three non-narcotic prescriptions before filling a narcotic prescription. 

A sign in the pharmacy said: "You man use another pharmacy if all you want to fill is a narcotic prescription."

Further evidence showed that Henson's patients would take their prescriptions to Otuonye himself because another pharmacist at Neighborhood Pharmacy refused to fill them. 

Prosecutors argued that Otuonye Failed to perform his professional responsibilities by continuing to fill prescriptions for Henson's patients despite warning signs including: 

  • Large numbers of prescriptions for higly addictive drugs
  • Customers paying cash
  • Multiple patients coming in at once with Henson's prescriptions
  • Patients from the same family presenting identical prescriptions.

Otuonye filled prescriptions for more than 21,600 tablets of Oxycodone, more than 48,600 tablets of Methadone, more than 18,000 tablets of Hydromorphone and more than7,800 tablets of Alprazolam.

Prosecutors also showed evidence that Otuonye had submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for filling Hensen's prescriptions. 

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