Formal Public Hearing
If the matter is not dismissed and a settlement cannot be reached through a consent order, the case will be scheduled for a formal public hearing before the full Board, after notice is given to the pharmacist or owner. If they have not done so already, many professionals decide that they need to retain a firm or attorney at the formal stage.
All formal hearings are conducted by the Board, a panel consisting of a majority of the members of the Board, or unusual cases, an administrative judge. The pharmacist or his or her legal counsel have the right to present evidence in defense, including calling witnesses and introducing exhibits, to make objections, to cross-examine any witness called by the Board counsel, and to make a closing argument. In all cases heard by the Board, the Board will issue its decision within 60 days after its next regularly scheduled meeting following the close of the hearing.
Possible Discipline and Outcomes of the Public Hearing
After a formal hearing, the Board may issue an order determining there has been a violation and imposing discipline. N.C. General Statutes Section 90-85.38 allows the Board the following actions in resolution of a hearing: (1) issue a letter of reprimand; (2) restrict a license; (3) suspend a license; (4) revoke a license; (5) refuse to grant or renew a license to practice pharmacy; (6) require licensees to successfully complete remedial education if the licensee has done any of the following:
a. Made false representations or withheld material information in connection with securing a license or permit;
- Been found guilty of or plead guilty or nolo contendere to any felony in connection with the practice of pharmacy or the distribution of drugs;
- Indulged in the use of drugs to an extent that renders the pharmacist unfit to practice pharmacy;
- Made false representations in connection with the practice of pharmacy that endanger or are likely to endanger the health or safety of the public, or that defraud any person;
- Developed a physical or mental disability that renders the pharmacist unfit to practice pharmacy with reasonable skill, competence and safety to the public;
- Failed to comply with the laws governing the practice of pharmacy and the distribution of drugs;
- Failed to comply with any provision of the Pharmacy Practice Act or rules adopted by the Board;
- Engaged in, or aided and abetted an individual to engage in, the practice of pharmacy without a license; or
- Been negligent in the practice of pharmacy.
An order issued by the Board may be appealed to Superior Court. Generally, it is much more difficult for a licensee to prevail once the matter reaches the court system on an appeal, even if he or she retains legal counsel at that point.