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Veterinarian stole, injected himself with pets’ drug: feds

A former veterinarian put pet patients “at risk” by stealing his animal hospital’s supply of an addictive opioid and injecting himself with it in Virginia, federal officials said.

A former veterinarian put pet people “at risk” by stealing his animal hospital’s supply of an addictive opioid and injecting himself with it in Virginia, federal officials claimed.

A former veterinarian put pet clients “at risk” by stealing his animal hospital’s source of an addictive opioid and injecting himself with it in Virginia, federal officers stated.

The person, who was his animal hospital’s prime surgeon, would replace portions of the stolen drug with various substances and return it to the hospital’s stock for use in the course of surgical procedures, in accordance to the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work for the Western District of Virginia.

The legitimate purpose of the drug — hydromorphone — was to take care of agony in animal clients pursuing surgical procedures, prosecutors claimed.

Patrick Gries, 54, of Madison Heights, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison on Wednesday, June 22, right after pleading guilty to two rates in connection with him altering VCA Amherst Animal Hospital’s provide of the opioid and distributing it to himself with no a prescription, the attorney’s place of work mentioned in a information launch.

“Neither Dr. Gries, nor any surgeon, could be self-assured in the precise dosage administered to the hospital’s veterinary individuals,” court files point out. As a result, some were being possibly exposed to “unnecessary discomfort and suffering.”

McClatchy News attained out to Gries’ lawyer for comment on June 23 and was awaiting a reaction.

Gries, who has “lived a mainly upstanding daily life,” worked at the Amherst County-based mostly animal medical center for practically 30 yrs and is accused of feeding “his possess drug addiction” by stealing and altering hydromorphone from July 2020 until eventually March 2021, according to court files.

He is accused of replacing what he stole with saline or butorphanol, which would get mixed with hydromorphone, the news launch claimed.

The Food stuff and Drug Administration, Drug Enforcement Agency and state authorities opened an investigation into Gries and tested some of the alleged “tampered vials,” courtroom files point out.

“The Food and drug administration observed that the focus of hydromorphone in these vials assorted wildly,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Just one vial had less than 1% of hydromorphone soon after Gries is accused of filling it with anything else, in accordance to courtroom files. A different was found out to have 88% of the suitable drug.

“By tampering with the vials, Dr. Gries introduced the probability of impurities that could lead to an infection,” prosecutors reported.

“To be distinct, the government has not found proof that any animal patients really suffered damage thanks to the Dr. Gries’ carry out. Nevertheless, the risk of adverse well being outcomes or demise to the animals was definitely present.”

In 2020, Gries made a ache medicine dependancy just after going through surgical procedure and obtained remedy following his actions at the animal healthcare facility have been learned, court files condition.

“As a end result, the record and qualities of (Gries) weigh in the direction of a lighter sentence,” prosecutors wrote.

There is an “opioid overdose epidemic” in the U.S., in accordance to the Centers for Disorder Handle and Prevention. Opioid overdoses accounted for the majority of drug overdose deaths in 2020 in the U.S.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy Countrywide Actual-Time reporter masking the southeast and northeast even though dependent in New York. She’s an alumna of The Faculty of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Formerly, she’s penned for Newsweek, Contemporary Luxury, Gannett and more.