How did 7 gallons of fentanyl go missing from a hospital? Regulators launch investigation

State regulators have suspended the licenses of several leaders at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H., as they investigate how more than seven gallons of fentanyl went missing from the hospital across a four-month period. On June 29, the hospital will find out whether the state's pharmacy board is suspending or revoking its pharmacy permit. 

In a June 6 report, ABC affiliate WMUR cited state documents that showed 583 bags of fentanyl solution went unaccounted for at the hospital from September 2021 to January 2022. 

At least 200 bags were allegedly stolen by a former nurse at the hospital. According to pharmacy documents cited by the New Hampshire Union Leader, Alexandra Towle, the former nurse who allegedly admitted to taking the solution from the hospital, used it "as a way of coping with the stress of working during the pandemic." She died unexpectedly March 3. 

Cheshire Medical Center said it beefed up security to avoid similar losses in February and March, but state regulators say another 11 bags have been lost since then. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also confirmed it's investigating the missing drugs. 

New Hampshire's Office of Professional Licensure and Certification suspended the nursing license of the hospital's CNO, Amy Matthews, DNP, RN, May 26 "due to concerns regarding supervision over the nurses over at Cheshire Medical Center," Lindsey Courtney, a spokesperson for the office, told WMUR

Dr. Matthews, who has not been accused of involvement in the thefts, has a hearing to review the suspension June 7. She did not respond to WMUR's request for comment.

Melissa Siciliano, PharmD, the hospital's pharmacy director, temporarily had her license suspended, but has since had it reinstated, according to The Keene Sentinel. The New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy has also initiated disciplinary action against the hospital over the missing fentanyl and will weigh whether to suspend or revoke the hospital's pharmacy permit in a June 29 hearing.  

"Cheshire Medical Center continues to work closely with government agencies on the ongoing investigation of this matter, even as we revise and refine our policies and protocols regarding the secure handling of pharmaceuticals," the hospital told WMUR. "Patient and employee safety are always our first priority, and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding the diversion of any controlled substance. We remain focused on providing the outstanding care our neighbors and community have come to expect from us."

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