Vermont Pharmacist License Defense

Vermont's picturesque landscape is sought by millions of visitors a year, but the state has one of the lowest populations in the U.S. Despite that, Vermont has a booming healthcare industry filled with promising and lucrative opportunities for licensed pharmacists. Some in the bigger cities are employed by larger institutions, such as the University of Vermont Health Network in Burlington or Rutland's Regional Medical Center. Others work throughout more rural areas as pharmacists in retail stores in Waterbury and local grocery stores in Berlin, Bradford, Colchester, and elsewhere in the Green Mountain State.

With a rewarding career following years of education and obtaining a license to practice, Vermont's pharmacists must do everything possible to protect their credentials and remain aligned with state authorities. Considering the juxtaposition between a pharmacist's responsibility to dispense controlled substances and their potential negative consequences for misuse, regulatory bodies won't hesitate to hand down severe discipline. You may wait until the state begins an investigation to seek professional help to protect your livelihood, but you must act now. Without assistance, disciplinary action can lead to situations like the following:

  • A license suspension leaves you without the ability to hold your job.
  • A license revocation causes you to find work in another industry.
  • Monetary fines can leave you fighting to provide for your family.

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is ready to help Vermont's licensed pharmacists defend against state board disciplinary action. Our attorneys recognize the intricacies of administrative procedures that address violations, including how licensees are left vulnerable to harsh discipline and the loss of their ability to practice. Call us at 888-535-3686 now to begin building a plan to safeguard your future, or visit us online to fill out our confidential online consultation form.

Vermont Board of Pharmacy Conduct Standards

The Vermont Board of Pharmacy (VBOP) and the Secretary of State's Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) supervise licensees and ensure compliance with pharmaceutical laws and regulations. One of the primary objectives of VBOP's oversight is managing licensee conduct.

The board may take disciplinary action on the grounds of unprofessional conduct, such as the following:

  • Giving or receiving improper assistance with license examinations.
  • Failing to provide or falsifying continuing education requirements.
  • Providing the board with misinformation.
  • Any connection with a non-licensed person in the effort to deliver, receive, accept, or solicit prescription drugs and devices.
  • Providing prescription blanks inscribed with the pharmacist's name or employer for use by a prescriber.
  • Discouraging or attempting to circumvent patient counseling requirements,
  • Breaches of patient confidentiality.
  • Failing to maintain complete and accurate records of all drugs received, dispensed, or disposed of.

The board has the authority to investigate the allegations listed above and others related to the legislature's rules and regulations and to issue fines, penalties, or other disciplinary actions as warranted. Nevertheless, many allegations of misconduct come from public complaints.

Vermont Pharmacist Complaint Process and OPR Investigations

Pharmacists may believe complaints are a narrow bandwidth of grievances solely related to on-the-job conduct. While colleagues or patients can submit complaints, any member of the public can, too. Complaints are filed through OPR's website or in a written statement to the office and not through VBOP. Yet, there are limitations to what OPR will address. The office will not pursue the following:

  • Money damages or restitution between individuals or employers.
  • Mediation between disputing parties.
  • Disputes involving insurance coverage.

OPR screens all complaints to evaluate whether the complaint or conduct in question is within its jurisdiction and whether it warrants public discipline. Regardless of the decision, OPR notifies the accuser (Complainant) that the complaint has been received. If no action is taken, the Complainant is notified by a mailed letter with a short explanation as to why the office did not pursue action.

Complaints meeting the above criteria are set for investigation, with priority given to matters involving "urgent dangers to the public health, safety, or welfare." OPR notifies the accused (Respondent) that a complaint against them is under investigation, which includes notice of their rights, such as the right to seek legal counsel. However, the office can withhold knowledge from the Respondent if there is "an investigative reason." Following notice given to both parties, an investigative team is then assigned to the case that includes the following individuals:

  • Case Manager
  • Investigator
  • Board Member or Advisor with expertise in the pharmacy profession
  • State Prosecuting Attorney

Each investigation varies depending on the nature of the complaint but includes gathering information from the Complainant, Respondent, and other relevant witnesses, as well as assessing forms of evidence. The State Prosecuting Attorney and the investigative team will determine whether the investigation has uncovered evidence of unprofessional conduct that warrants discipline.

When complaints or allegations are closed or dismissed, the investigative details and identity of the Respondent remain confidential. OPR mails a brief report to the Complainant and Respondent, notifying them of the outcome. Cases that merit sanction can be handled in one of two ways:

  1. Resolve the charges with an agreement, often called a stipulation.
  2. Resolve the charges in a formal hearing before a Hearing Officer or an Administrative Law Officer.

OPR claims the formal disciplinary process may span a year or longer. However, when your license is online, you need every avenue of defense you can access.

Formal Hearing Process

In formal disciplinary matters, the VBOP may authorize its legal counsel to preside over the hearings for the purpose of making procedural and evidentiary rulings. Otherwise, a Hearing Officer administers oaths, rules on offers of proof, and regulates the course of the hearing. The Hearing Officer may also convene the parties to conduct a pre-hearing conference to resolve the matter before proceedings begin, concluding encouraging mediation and stipulation agreements.

The hearing begins with opening statements from the board's representative and the Respondent, providing initial insight into each party's position. The board's counsel presents the case against the licensee, including using witness testimony and evidence to build their argument. Respondents—who may be represented by legal counsel—have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, object to evidence and testimony, and present their case to the hearing officer.

After all the evidence has been presented, both parties can make closing arguments summarizing their positions and the evidence presented in a last attempt to influence the Hearing Officer's decision. The Hearing Officer then deliberates and issues a written decision, typically mailed to the Complaint and Respondent within 30 days, and will include the charges, the Hearing Officer's decision, a short explanation as to why, and the appropriate sanctions.

Sanctions for Vermont Pharmacists

Regardless of whether appeals are filed, punitive measures are effective immediately. Orders from the Hearing Officer can take many forms depending on what was adjudicated, but some of the most common are the following:

  • Formal Reprimand
  • Fines
  • Remediation
  • Probation
  • License Suspension
  • License Revocation

Although reprimands, fines, and remedial plans may sound minor, they can often snowball into larger problems. Reprimands are formal letters of warning that are placed in a licensee's permanent record. Therefore, when an individual seeks other employment opportunities or licensure in another state, it could be a reason for denial.

Fines can also add up. It's not uncommon for fines to go into the thousands of dollars and can leave a pharmacist struggling to provide for their family.

Remediation plans are typically additional tasks to rehabilitate the conduct that led to the charges. Unfortunately, they often mean pharmacists are juggling extra work and may fall behind in the practice, potentially leading to further complaint matters. Obliged activities can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Continuing education requirements
  • Additional training
  • Mandatory supervision
  • Limitations of practice

When OPR hands down a license suspension—typically for serious or repeated violations—the minimum period of time is usually one year, with licensees often needing to complete tasks before being able to have their credentials reinstated. When state authorities revoke a license, it effectively ends an individual's ability to practice pharmacy in the state. Sometimes, former licensees may be able to apply for reinstatement after five years, but that is a condition met by the Hearing Officer's determination.

When a pharmacist's license is suspended temporarily or permanently in Vermont, they may think they can travel to a neighboring state and continue their occupation. However, Vermont, along with 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories, is a Nurse Practice Act signatory. The nationwide regulation allows states to share license information, allowing easier employment across state lines. Yet, that means other pharmacy boards see a licensee's discipline, and attempts to apply for licenses elsewhere are denied until they can reapply in their home state.

Appealing OPR Sanctions

If the pharmacist disagrees with the Hearing Officer's decision, they have the right to appeal to OPR's Appellate Officer by filing a written request with the Docket Clerk within 30 days. The appeals process typically involves a review of the record of proceedings, briefs filed by the Respondent and OPR or the VBOP, and oral arguments presented before the Appellate Officer.

In any appeal, the Appellate Officer may direct the parties to appear for a pre-hearing conference with at least 14 days' notice. The conference aims to do the following:

  • Simplifying the issues addressed.
  • Discussing the possibility of settlement.
  • Any other matters that may aid the Appellate Officer.

The Appellate Officer may schedule hearings or oral arguments. However, they will not be used to rehear substantive evidence that could have been raised in the proceedings before. Generally, they are used to challenge procedural mishaps, bias, or excessive punishment. Within 60 days, they may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision in a written order or judgment. If either party disagrees with the decision, they may have the option to appeal further to the Vermont Superior Court.

How Can the Lento Law Firm Help?

Licensed pharmacists may not think they need professional help or representation until they are trying to file an appeal to prevent the ruination of their careers. Even though Vermont pharmacists understand the world of dispensing drugs, medication, and other controlled substances, they may not have the wherewithal to identify weaknesses in OPR's assessment of the complaint against them or inquiries and arguments during the subsequent investigation and hearing.

Nevertheless, rather than fretting over learning state laws and regulations, let a group of dedicated attorneys create a defense strategy for you. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can also help you in the following ways:

  • Assessing the validity of the complaint: Our team can evaluate the allegations against you and create potential avenues of defense to minimize the potential consequences of disciplinary action.
  • Representation with OPR: Anytime OPR or any other state authority needs something from you, we can act as your representative. Moreover, we can assist or represent you at all stages of the disciplinary process, including presenting evidence, examining witnesses, and arguing on your behalf to challenge the allegations.
  • Negotiating before formal proceedings begin: Our attorneys can negotiate with the board's legal counsel or any OPR representative to reach a settlement or resolution outside of a hearing.
  • Filing Appeals: If you disagree with the outcome of OPR's decision, our attorneys can assist with the appeals process, including filing, preparing briefs, and presenting arguments.

Outside of mitigating punitive measures, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will always serve as an advocate and resource for Vermont's licensed pharmacists. We will give you guidance and reassurance when you're dealing with the disciplinary process, but we can also advise you on state rule changes, license renewal procedures, and other ways your license may be vulnerable.

Whether you're on staff at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, at one of the many standalone pharmacies in South Burlington, or anywhere throughout Vermont licensed to dispense medication and other controlled substances, be sure to contact our team to understand what you and your license are up against before the disciplinary process begins. Contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team now at 888-535-3686 or visit our confidential online consultation form, and we will reach out to you.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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