Who’s behind Clay County’s Alleged Pill Mill Pharmacies?

In a federal lawsuit outlining explosive allegations against two Clay County pharmacies making its way through the court system, four individuals are named as defendants in the case: the pharmacies’ majority owner and three pharmacists who allegedly filled scores of suspect prescriptions.

Dale Hollow Pharmacy and Xpress Pharmacy in the 1,500-person town of Celina, Tennessee, have been investigated on multiple occasions by the Drug Enforcement Administration leading to the lawsuit’s filing in February.

Here’s a look at the people named in the lawsuit.

Thomas Weir

Weir owns 51 percent of Dale Hollow and Xpress pharmacies and is Dale Hollow’s CEO, according to the lawsuit.

Last June during a DEA investigation of Dale Hollow, Weir allegedly told agents that doctors, not pharmacists, should be investigated, and that he couldn’t tell a board-certified doctor “no,” according to a written statement by DEA Diversion Investigator Samantha Rogers.

Weir, who doesn’t have a pharmacy license, told agents he didn’t believe the opioid epidemic exists, calling it “media hype,” Rogers’ statement says.

Weir’s attorney would not comment.

John Polston

Polston is the pharmacist in charge at Dale Hollow Pharmacy. His license was placed on probation in 2015 after investigators found he dispensed controlled substances to a family member who didn’t have a valid prescription.

During his probation, Polston admitted to DEA agents that Weir sometimes asked him to fill prescriptions for controlled substances “one or two days earlier than the refill date,” according to Rogers’ statement.

In April, Polston was indicted on nearly two dozen violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

Polston declined to comment for this story.

Michael Griffith

He is the pharmacist in charge at Xpress Pharmacy. His license was placed on probation for five years in 2012 by the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy after he stole hydrocodone while working at a another pharmacy, according to the lawsuit.

Griffith’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Larry Larkin

Larkin, who worked part-time at both pharmacies, was open about his employment there when reached for comment.

He disputed the lawsuit’s allegations that he irresponsibly filled prescriptions and said he regularly checked the state prescription database and refused to fill suspicious orders.

On one occasion, Larkin said, he refused to fill a prescription because it had been altered. Someone had attempted to scribble over a note on the prescription from another pharmacist that said it was too early to fill it, Larkin said.

When Weir pressured him to fill it anyway, Larkin said, he stood his ground.

Larkin’s pharmacy license was placed on probation in the 1990s for unauthorized filling of prescriptions. His license was revoked in 2004 after he tested positive for cocaine, then left a rehab facility against medical advice.

His license was reinstated in 2006 with a five-year probation period.

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