Vancouver methadone pharmacy closed over unsanitary conditions
Investigators find feces, mould, rat droppings in Downtown Pharmacy
A methadone pharmacy in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has been ordered closed by the B.C. College of Pharmacists due to unsanitary conditions.
Regulators suspended the Downtown Pharmacy's licence indefinitely after raiding the pharmacy at 348 Powell St. on Wednesday morning.
College spokesperson Mykle Ludvigsen told CBC News feces, mould and rat droppings were found by the college's investigators.
"One of our inspectors said the cleanest part of the pharmacy was the bathroom", Ludvigsen said.
Interior photos provided by the college to CBC News show mould covering food stuffs and a wall beneath a sink.
A storage room had exposed ceilings, shoddy insulation and water stains. There was also an open bag of mould-covered pancake mix. A light switch was broken and exposed.
Investigators were shocked by what they found, Ludvigsen said.
"That's a huge red flag for us, and that's why we took the extraordinary action." he said.
In July, the pharmacy was removed from the province's drug plan, Pharmacare, over irregular practices.
Pharmacare pays for drugs for people on low incomes or with special medical needs.
Twenty-nine pharmacies across Metro Vancouver in the last year have either had their Pharmacare enrolment cancelled or decided not to reapply to the program because of their history of regulatory problems.
Last May, the B.C. Ministry of Health said some had a history of billing issues, and audits by the government had recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Others improperly filed drug information into patient records on Pharmanet, and still others had apparently given false information on their enrolment applications.
For its part, the college released a four year action plan to enforce methadone maintenance treatment standards in July.
In the plan, the college promises 40 priority inspections of methadone pharmacies and at least six undercover investigations in the next four years.