A Tantallon, N.S., doctor is facing serious charges related to an alleged drug-trafficking scheme after being accused of prescribing thousands of pills to a patient who never received them.
Bridgewater police announced the charges against Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones, 35, on Wednesday morning.
Police allege she prescribed 50,000 oxycodone and oxyneo pills to one patient, but the patient did not receive them.
"This is a terribly serious matter, it's terribly worrisome," said Dr. Gus Grant, the registrar of Nova Scotia's College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Grant tipped off police last August. He received a call from a concerned pharmacist on Aug. 21 and gathered the investigation committee that day.
"The result of that meeting was that an interim suspension was placed on Dr. Jones's licence, essentially removing her from practice at that time."
That suspension was not considered disciplinary action as the investigation was just beginning, said Grant.
The RCMP started the file, but they handed the case over the Bridgewater police once they discovered the alleged actions happened in the town.
"It is a very large number of pills. I've never seen a case with this many pills involved," said Police Chief John Collyer.
He said Jones was arrested two weeks ago.
"There was a search done at her residence and she was arrested subsequent to that search, but she was released within a day on conditions to appear in court."
Collyer won't say what — if anything — was found in the doctor's home.
He says investigators have not recovered all of the 50,000 pills. He also won't pinpoint a value on the narcotics.
"It is variable, considerably, depending on location and dosage and the particular pill that's being sold."
No longer working
Jones formerly worked at the Crossroads Family Practice in Tantallon.
Grant says Jones was able to go back to work for a few weeks after her initial suspension under certain conditions, but it didn't take long before both sides agreed it was time for her to stop practicing altogether.
The clinic formally announced her departure in mid-January. Collyer calls the case "very concerning" because it involves trust issues with a physician.
On top of a charge of trafficking, Jones is also accused of possession for the purpose of trafficking, theft, breach of trust, drawing a document without authority and fraud.
She's expected to appear in Bridgewater provincial court on May 11.
Grant says the College of Physicians and Surgeons will conduct a few more interviews before pausing its own investigation and allowing the criminal process to finish.
At that time, he said they'll decide if any measures need to be taken. Grant says the investigation so far has been a success.
"In many regards it reflects that our system works insofar as that our information came from a health professional and we were able to pursue our concerns because of information available at the prescription monitoring program," he said, also crediting their partnership with law enforcement.