Magazine article Drug Topics

Infamous K.C. Pharmacy Reopens with New Owner and Makeover

Magazine article Drug Topics

Infamous K.C. Pharmacy Reopens with New Owner and Makeover

Article excerpt

The remodeling crew ripping out partitions and painting dingy walls wasn't just sprucing up a pharmacy. It was erasing the stain left by the former owner, a Kansas City pharmacist who admitted diluting drugs for profit.

Robert Courtney was arrested last August for diluting chemotherapy drugs, and his assets were frozen by a federal judge. That left the 210 physicians in three adjacent medical buildings without a pharmacy to serve their patients. They needed to get the store reopened fast, so they turned to Howard Stark, a well-- known compounding pharmacist who owns three apothecaries (www.starkpharmacies.com). He heeded their call and jumped through various hoops imposed by the snarled legal situation to purchase Courtney's Research Medical Tower Pharmacy.

Friends and colleagues thought Stark had gone off the deep end. They couldn't quite see why a man of his stature would want to become mixed up with what was perhaps the most infamous pharmacy in American history. The drug-dilution story was on the front page of newspapers and led TV newscasts.

The neon sign, likely seen by millions, is gone now, replaced by a professional apothecary look. Gone, too, are the snack displays and nine greeting card racks; the front end shrank to only 500 sq. ft. Most important, the small, dingy back room where Courtney closed the door to work alone diluting drugs has been dismantled. Now, passers-- by can peer in the front window and see the compounding operations behind large picture windows. And all the personnel wear white jackets to signify their status as healthcare professionals.

"People stand there, noses pressed to the window, watching our folks dressed in white making medications," said Stark, who is a past president of the American College of Apothecaries. "The practice isn't as big as it once was, but I'm not interested in filling 400 scripts a day. We fill about 200 scripts and do disease state management and compounding. We're much better off from the standpoint of pharmaceutical care and profitability."

One of the first things Stark did after he bought the pharmacy was to call in news crews from all four local TV stations. While the cameras rolled, he made it very clear that the drug inventory he had just purchased was going into the trash. …

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