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Authorities investigating illegal pill rings in Mid-Missouri

People from out of state are coming to Mid-Missouri to get their hands on prescription drugs. Missouri is the only state in the country without a prescription medication registry.

“There’s no way to monitor if a person should go to multiple doctors and then go to multiple pharmacies getting the same prescription,” said Erica Hopkins, a pharmacist at D & H Pharmacy in Columbia. “There’s nobody keeping track of that.”

In September, five people from Kentucky were arrested and charged with fraudulently attempting to obtain a controlled substance.

According to court documents obtained by ABC 17 on Thursday, employees at Hils Pharmacy in Moberly contacted the State Highway Patrol about several people trying get prescriptions filled for pain killers that were written by a doctor in Florida.

The probable cause statement states that Angela Turner, 35, from Kentucky, entered the pharmacy on two different occasions with two different men to get the prescriptions filled.

“It’s one thing if you live in a surrounding town and go see a doctor or specialist, but if you live hours away and from a doctor that’s even further away, that sends up red flags,” Hopkins said. “It’s usually for pain meds of some sort and they want to pay cash.”

Authorities confronted Turner and Kenneth Browning, 49, in the lobby of the pharmacy. After searching Turner’s purse, they found a small bag of prescription pain pills.

Turner then admitted to being addicted to the pills and stated she went to Dr. Ralph Miniet of Miami Lakes, Florida because she was told he would likely prescribe her pills relatively easily.

Turner and Browning told police three other people from Kentucky came to Moberly with them to get the prescription filled.

Bernice Coffey, Ginger Medley and Scott Harris were also arrested and charged along with Turner and Browning.

The Hils Pharmacy owner did not want to comment on the incident.

Hopkins said she sees this kind of illegal activity happen far too often. She explains D & H will not accept an out-of-state prescription unless it can be verified by the doctor.

“I have to be able to sleep at night knowing that whatever I’m dispensing is not going to harm anybody,” she said. “If I think that it could be used for misuse, being sold to be used on the streets then that just makes it hard.”

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