JENSEN BEACH — The state Department of Health ordered Treasure Coast Pharmacy to shut down Tuesday evening because it was operating what the department called one of the largest steroid suppliers in the country.
Over a six-month period, the pharmacy dispensed almost 11,000 steroid and human-growth hormone orders and 3,700 other addictive prescriptions, such as oxycodone, a Department of Health news release states. Many of those prescriptions came from Internet businesses, which doctors from across the country signed off on without first conducting patient exams, or considering how much of the drug was medically necessary, the release states.
No arrests have been made in the federal investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the administration did not comment on any future or related investigations, or possible arrests.
The DEA led an early morning raid on the Jensen Beach Boulevard pharmacy Tuesday along with several police, sheriff and state trooper units. Law enforcement officials seized dozens of boxes of prescription records before the DEA decided to pull the pharmacy's registration to deal controlled substances legally, and the Department of Health issued an emergency suspension order to shut down the business.
The investigation leading up to the raid found that between October 2010 and March 31, the pharmacy, also known as Treasure Coast Specialty Pharmacy Inc., dispensed 10,744 anabolic-androgenic steroids prescriptions and human growth hormone prescriptions. From November 2010 to April 30, it also filled 3,703 Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions, the majority of which were oxycodone, the release states.
Doctors received the online orders and signed prescriptions without patient exams or regard for the orders' quantities or dosages, the release states. The signed prescriptions were sent to Treasure Coast Pharmacy through a third party, and then shipped out to patients, the release states.
The online businesses recruited physicians to sign prescriptions from the Internet with no patient-doctor relationship, and doctors then accepted payments from the Internet businesses for each steroid and human growth hormone prescription they signed, the release states.
On June 15, an undercover DEA agent went with a patient to Treasure Coast Pharmacy after the patient unsuccessfully tried to fill a Roxicodone order at several Palm Beach County pharmacies. One West Palm Beach clinic said that for a fee, the patient could go to the Treasure Coast for his drugs. He paid the fee, and traveled to Treasure Coast Pharmacy where the prescription was filled at no cost, according to the Department of Health order of emergency suspension of permit.
The pharmacy specifically filled prescriptions for an Internet steroid and hormone supplier in Kansas, and a clinic based in Tennessee, the suspension order states. The suspension document also includes at least two instances where the doctors self-prescribed steroids, which is against Florida law.
Additionally, more than 7,600 of the steroid and human growth hormone prescriptions during the six months investigated were shipped worldwide by Treasure Coast Pharmacy, the release states.
The investigation revealed 57 physicians — including 30 in Florida — wrote the 10,744 prescriptions. One Florida doctor wrote 4,430 — or almost half — of the human growth hormone and steroid orders, which mainly were shipped out of state, or internationally to patients in locations such as Guam, the Virgin Islands, Finland and Canada, the release states.
And about 1,400 of the 3,703 prescriptions Treasure Coast Pharmacy distributed for controlled substances like oxycodone went to patients living at least 75 miles away from prescribing doctors, the suspension order states.
Treasure Coast Pharmacy's co-directors are Peter Deltoro of Palm City, and Richard R. Deltoro of Port St. Lucie, according to Florida Department of State records.
Peter Deltoro has an active license as a consultant pharmacist, and has no disciplinary actions or public complaints on record, according to the state Department of Health.
The emergency suspension isn't considered a final action, however, and businesses under suspension are entitled to a hearing before final action is taken, the release states.
A sign on the business' door Tuesday evening advised patients to contact their doctors if they need prescriptions filled.