West Virginia Pharmacist License Defense

Despite its sparse population, West Virginia has an immense amount of career opportunities for licensed pharmacists and pharmacy interns. Some work in the state's bigger cities at larger institutions, such as clinical pharmacists at the Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington or as staff members at Highland Hospital in the capital of Charleston. Others are employed in more rural areas like Kingwood with facilities run by Mon Health or in Martinsburg as pharmacists in local grocery stores. Regardless of where and what position a licensed pharmacist works, each has the opportunity for a lucrative, long-lasting career.

With a public-facing job surrounding the dispersal of controlled substances, however, licensees are governed by a state authority that will not hesitate to investigate and adjudicate allegations or complaints. Your West Virginia pharmacist license is vulnerable to suspension and revocation; therefore, your career can end with any rule violation or objection from the public. While you may wait until the board launches an investigation to seek professional help to defend your livelihood, the time to act is now.

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team stands prepared to help licensed pharmacists defend their credentials from state board disciplinary action. Our team of attorneys understands the complexities of the administrative procedures that state authorities use to manage violations, including how the process can leave licensees susceptible to harsh discipline. Call us at 888-535-3686 now to learn how we can help you protect your license and your career or visit us online to fill out our confidential online consultation form.

West Virginia Board of Pharmacy

The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy (WVBOP) oversees licensees and protects the public health and welfare by ensuring compliance with state pharmaceutical laws and regulations. The board's oversight includes aspects of the following:

  • Controlled substance dispensing and distribution.
  • Licensing standards and pharmacy practices.
  • Licensee documentation and recordkeeping.

WVBOP has the authority to investigate complaints and allegations related to the legislature's rules and regulations surrounding the conduct of licensed individuals and to issue fines, penalties, or other disciplinary actions as warranted against pharmacists and pharmacy interns. While maintaining licensee standards, there is an added emphasis on ensuring that prescription drugs remain in the control of the proper authorities.

Controlled Substance Automated Prescription Program

Over the past few decades, a dramatic increase in prescription medication has been paralleled by an immense uptick in misuse and overdose deaths. Subsequently, state-run prescription drug monitoring programs have sprouted nationwide.

WVBOP's Controlled Substance Automated Prescription Program (CSAPP) tracks all information related to what pharmacists dispense, including Schedule II, II, IV, and V controlled substances and opioid antagonists. All licensees who dispense to West Virginia residents must provide the information to CSAPP every 24 hours. Failure to submit electronic reports within the allotted timeframe is subject to action from the board.

Critically, prescribers and pharmacists authorized to access the patient information must certify they seek data exclusively to provide healthcare to current patients. Licensees who access or disclose information for any purpose are subject to civil penalties and disciplinary action.

West Virginia Pharmacist Complaint Process

The disciplinary process begins when the WVBOP receives a complaint targeting a licensee. It isn't just colleagues, patients, or medication recipients who can file complaints—anyone member of the public can. Yet, there are limitations to what is eligible for consideration. For instance, the board lacks jurisdiction in the following situations:

  • Billing disputes or other business disagreements.
  • Disputes between employers and employees.
  • Insurance coverage or limitations.
  • On-the-job personality conflicts.
  • Scheduling issues with employers or facilities.

As a part of procedural due process, a copy of the complaint form is provided to the individual against whom the complaint is filed, and once completed, is part of the public record. If licensees have yet to consider whether they need professional assistance, don't hesitate to call us now so the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can begin to build your defense strategy based on the complaint.

WVBOP Investigative Committee

Upon receiving a complaint, the board conducts an initial review to determine if it falls within its jurisdiction and if sufficient information warrants further investigation into the alleged wrongdoing. The WVBOP's complaint committee will consist of two board members, including at least one pharmacist. As well, the board will select one of the following as its representative in the case:

  • Executive Director
  • Investigator
  • Inspector
  • Legal Counsel

The complaint committee may employ third-party consultants or others as necessary to assist the board's representative in the investigation and adjudication of a case. The board's representative may issue subpoenas to collect evidence, depose witnesses, or take sworn statements in order to understand the course of events behind the allegations.

After completing the investigation, the board's representative presents the information in a report to the complaint committee. The report contains a statement of the allegations, a statement of the facts determined, and an analysis of the complaint, including findings and subsequent recommendations. If the representative fails to establish probable cause, the complaint may be dismissed, but all investigative information is provided to the committee for further review. The committee may approve or disapprove the dismissal of the case or direct the board's representative to continue the investigation to then render a recommendation.

The full, seven-member board votes on the committee's recommendation—accepting or amending it. Afterward, the board's representative will draft a consent agreement exhibiting the discipline voted upon by the full board. If the licensee contests the allegations or the consent agreement, the board's representative may present the board with either alternative sanctions or recommend that the case be set for a formal hearing in front of the full board or an administrative law judge (ALJ).

Formal Hearing Process

When the board's representative files formal charges against a licensed pharmacist at the direction of the WVBOP, the board's legal counsel prepares and serves a notice of hearing. This notice includes the following information:

  1. Charges against the licensee, including initial evidence.
  2. Date of the hearing, including the time and location of the proceedings.
  3. Rights afforded to the respondent, including the right to have legal representation.

WVBOP appoints a hearing officer to preside over the matter, who is either an ALJ or another legal professional. In some cases, the board may schedule a pre-hearing conference. This is used to discuss procedural matters and attempt to facilitate settlement or resolution of the case without needing a formal hearing. Proceedings begin with opening statements from the board's legal counsel (the plaintiff) and the licensed pharmacist or their representation (the respondent) to provide an overview of each party's position and the evidence they intend to present to support their case.

The board's legal counsel presents the case against the licensee, including using witness testimony and evidence to build their argument. Respondents or their legal representatives have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or object to evidence and testimony before they have an opportunity to present their case to the hearing officer fully.

After all the evidence has been presented, both parties can make closing arguments summarizing their positions and the evidence presented in one final attempt to persuade the hearing officer to reach a favorable decision. Following proceedings, the hearing officer deliberates and issues a written decision, including any appropriate disciplinary actions.

Sanctions for West Virginia Pharmacists

Unless instructed by the board, sanctions are effective immediately, regardless of whether appeals are filed. Punishment can take many forms depending on the violations adjudicated, but some of the most common are the following:

  • Reprimand: A formal, board-issued statement expressing disapproval of the licensee's conduct. This serves as a warning in the pharmacist's disciplinary record, typically reserved for minor or first-time violations.
  • Fines: The board may impose monetary fines or penalties as part of the disciplinary action against the pharmacist. Fines serve as a deterrent and may be imposed in addition to other disciplinary measures.
  • Probation: Restrictions or specific conditions that place the pharmacist under supervision and monitoring for a designated period of time. These conditions may include additional education or training requirements, limitations on practice, and other provisions.
  • License Suspension: The temporary prohibition of practice for a specified period of time, typically imposed for serious or repeated violations.
  • License Revocation: The permanent termination of the pharmacist's license, effectively ending their ability to practice pharmacy in the state. Revocation is reserved for the most serious violations, such as threatening patient harm or disregarding public health and welfare.

When a pharmacist's license is suspended in West Virginia, that doesn't mean they can travel to a neighboring state to pick up work at another hospital or healthcare center. West Virginia, along with 49 other states, three U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, is a signatory of the Nurse Practice Act. The regulation allows states to share license information to provide an easy pathway to employment across state lines. However, that means discipline in one state is seen by all others, and attempts to apply for credentials elsewhere are typically met with denial until the applicant's disciplinary period is up and they can reapply in their home state.

Appealing WVBOP Sanctions

If the pharmacist disagrees with the board's decision, they have the right to appeal through West Virginia circuit courts within 30 days. The appeal process typically involves a review of the record of proceedings, briefs filed by both parties, and oral arguments presented before the lower court.

The court may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of WVBOP based on its review of the case, typically provided in a written order or judgment. If either party disagrees with the decision of the circuit court, they may have the option to further appeal to the state's highest authority—the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

How Can the Lento Law Firm Help?

Licensees don't often think they need a lawyer until they are trying to put together an appeal. Although West Virginia pharmacists understand the ins and outs of dispersing drugs, medication, and other controlled substances, they may not be able to identify weaknesses or inconsistencies in the board's case against them. Despite your understanding of the medical world, you may be unable to present a strong defense to keep your credentials intact.

Instead of worrying about building a defense strategy, let the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team create one for you. Our team can help you in the following significant ways:

  • Complaint Assessment and Strategy: Our team can evaluate the complaint against you, including the allegations, evidence, and potential avenues of defense to minimize the potential consequences of disciplinary action.
  • Representation at Hearings: We can assist or represent you at all stages of the disciplinary process, including formal hearings before a WVBOP hearing officer or an ALJ and in other appellate matters. We will present evidence, examine witnesses, and make arguments on your behalf, including cross-examining witnesses presented by the board and challenging the evidence.
  • Negotiation and Settlement: Our attorneys can negotiate with the board's legal counsel to explore the possibility of reaching a settlement or resolution before formal procedures begin.
  • Filing Appeals: If the pharmacist disagrees with the outcome of the disciplinary hearing, an attorney can assist with the appeals process, including filing appeals with the appropriate courts, preparing briefs, and presenting arguments.

Most importantly, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will always serve as a dedicated advocate and source of support for West Virginia licensed pharmacists. We can provide guidance and reassurance whether you're in the throes of the disciplinary process or not, such as advising you on board rule changes, license renewal procedures, and how you may be vulnerable to other complaints or violations.

Whether you're on staff at Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley, at one of the many standalone pharmacies in Morgantown, or anywhere throughout West Virginia dispersing medication, 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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