Troubled drug store has a new owner - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Troubled drug store has a new owner

April 12, 2007

Albany --  An Albany pharmacy that's been seized twice by the county is now in the hands of a new owner and pharmacist. The Dougherty District Attorney's office seized TLC Drugs in October and filed a civil complaint against its pharmacist Thomas McSwain.

McSwain was filling prescriptions for over prescribed high powered pain killers prescribed by Dr. George Lawrence. Lawrence is also facing criminal and civil charges.

October fourth, the District Attorney's office changed the locks at TLC Drugs and filed a civil complaint against Pharmacist Thomas McSwain, accusing him of over-dispensing very serious narcotics.

"There has been a negotiated settlement with Mr. McSwain, the previous pharmacist, that he will no longer engage in pharmacy related activities in Dougherty County and any of the contiguous counties around Dougherty County," said Ken Hodges, District Attorney. 

That settlement has allowed the Atlanta based attorney who received the pharmacy to sell it to a new owner, Gary Phillips.

"I'm very conservative on my pharmaceutical philosophy and it's very important to me that a person get their medication, if it's something that they need, however it's something at the same time that I like to be able to monitor their medication needs," Phillips said.

Hodges hopes this will end the continuous chain of problems at TLC which included a raid for stolen and forged prescriptions in 1994, and prescriptions, drug records, and store surveillance tapes that were seized in 2003. "I believe that we are now done with problems now at Phillips Pharmacy."

The Pharmacy will be Phillips' first, but he's worked at U-Save-It and Phoebe and looks forward to changing the pharmacy's image. "I want to be involved in the customer patients medication needs, I want to instruct them about their medications, whatever questions that they have, and I think that by doing that then I'll address these types of issues."

Thursday, the District Attorney's office got a $200,000 check from the sale of the Pharmacy, money that will be put into its operating fund to continue Dougherty County's war against drugs.

With the civil case resolved against former owner Thomas McSwain, the District Attorney said he wouldn't pursue criminal charges. Hodges did however say both criminal and civil charges remain against Dr. George Lawrence. In July Lawrence's office and home were raided. Lawrence is accused of over-prescribing narcotics for more than 100 patients.

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