Governor’s office behind pharmacy board firing

Earlier this year legislators and Gov. John Kasich removed a legal requirement that the board’s executive director be a licensed pharmacist. The Ohio Pharmacy Association opposed the move.

Parker, who was appointed pharmacy board director in January 2012, wrote a three-page “timeline” of events leading up to his forced resignation in April 2014. In the document, Parker alleges that Kaisch senior advisor Jai Chabria “threatened to decimate the board, remove board members, turn our agency into an umbrella board and ruin my reputation if they did not fire me.”

The demand that Parker resign came six days after Parker told the House Finance Committee that the Board of Pharmacy had not requested that the executive director requirements be changed.

Kasich press secretary Rob Nichols said the governor appoints the nine pharmacy board members and has an interest in how the agency operates. “Obviously, we made our opinions known.”

Nichols alleges that Parker was not sufficiently engaged in combating “pill mills” that were filling opiate prescriptions to addicts.

“People’s lives were at risk. This was a serious issue affecting Ohioans. The governor, the attorney general, the General Assembly all thought that everybody needs to be engaged in this. The executive director of the pharmacy board was indifferent at best and obstructionist at worst,” Nichols said.

Almost immediately after taking office in January 2011, Kasich began a campaign to shut down pill mills to help address the opiate addiction crisis in Ohio. When asked why Parker was fired long after this campaign began and why his dismissal came on the heels of a proposal to change the job credentials, Nichols said eight of nine board members are pharmacists and the director doesn’t need to be a pharmacist as well.

“He is not the first guy in state government to lose his job and make allegations not tethered in reality,” Nichols said of Parker’s timeline.

Nichols also noted that Parker misinterpreted federal health care law to try to block managed care organizations’ ability to look at prescription drug data in the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System and he refused requests from the Kasich administration to learn more about OARRS capabilities. The database tracks prescriptions written and filled for controlled substances.

Parker, 44, did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Parker, who made $119,246 a year, received a favorable evaluation as executive director. His evaluation in April 2013 noted that he “has the highest level of integrity in all aspects of his position,” “changed the culture positively,” and “totally revamped the Board of Pharmacy.”

The Board of Pharmacy is the state agency in charge of enforcing laws governing the legal distribution of drugs. It regulates legal distribution of drugs, ensures the quality of all drugs — prescribed or sold over the counter — and investigates and disciplines 40,000 licensees.

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