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Pharmacy Student Dies After Contact With Potent Drug

Filed June 17th, 2014 Cynthia Diaz-Shephard

A St. John’s University pharmacy student died after coming in contact with a potent drug while working unsupervised at Rockwell Compounding Associates, according to a lawsuit.

James Yoo, 22, of Manhattan, died in February after coming in contact with Fentanyl, a cancer-treatment drug that is said to be 80 times more powerful than morphine, The New York Post reported.

The lawsuit says St. John’s is expected to put students in safe programs that are well supervised and failed to do so in the case of Yoo. The autopsy showed that just four days into his externship at Rockwell, Yoo’s skin came in contact with fentanyl. Yoo’s family filed the lawsuit against the St. John’s University and Rockwell Compounding Associates in Queens Supreme Court.

Rockwell had previously been investigated by the Board of Regents for allegedly contaminating medications and compounding medicines without patient prescriptions, the New York Post reported.

According to the Post, Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and as little as two milligrams can be fatal. The lawsuit alleges that Yoo collapsed and died six days after coming in contact with the drug.

The lawsuit alleges that Rockwell Compounding was negligent in its training and training and supervision and the school is at fault for failing to do a proper background check on the company.

The investigation into Rockwell’s compounding practices found much wrongdoing. Pharmacists who compound drugs make them from scratch, which allows them to tailor drugs for patients with certain allergies or create a liquid form of a drug available only in solid doses, the New York Post reported. However, it is illegal to make a compound drug without a prescription.

The illegal activity resulted in Rockwell and its owner being placed on probation in 2002 by the Board of Regents for illegally manufacturing drugs. Rockwell and Consentino were both stripped of their licenses early this year, the Post reported.

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