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Lake Charles vet convicted in horse doping scheme - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Lake Charles vet convicted in horse doping scheme

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Lafayette Federal Courthouse Lafayette Federal Courthouse

A federal jury has convicted a Lake Charles veterinarian and a Nebraska pharmacy in a conspiracy to sell an unapproved opioid drug 40 times more powerful than morphine for the purpose of improving the performance of race horses.

Kyle James Hebert, 42, of Lake Charles, and Kohll’s Pharmacy & Healthcare Inc. of Omaha, were found guilty of one count of conspiracy. 

Hebert also was found guilty of two counts of receipt of adulterated or misbranded drug with the intent to defraud and mislead; and one count of misbranding a drug while held for sale with the intent to defraud and mislead. 

Kohll’s Pharmacy was also found guilty of two counts of introduction of adulterated or misbranded drug in interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead.

United States District Judge Donald E. Walter presided over the trial. The defendants’ trial started October 30 and ended on Monday, November 7 with the jury returning the guilty verdict after three and a half hours of deliberation.

Evidence admitted at trial revealed that from November 11, 2010 to December 2012 Hebert, Kohll’s Pharmacy & Healthcare Inc., which operated as Essential Pharmacy Compounding, and others conspired to distribute a synthetic form of the drug Dermorphin, which was then given to racehorses to improve their racing performance. 

Essential Pharmacy Compounding repackaged a synthetic form of the drug that it obtained from a California chemical company, labeled it as D-Peptide, and sold it to Hebert and other veterinarians.  Hebert then put the drug into syringes and gave the loaded syringes to the racetrack trainers tasked with the horses’ care.  Evidence at trial revealed that Demorphin is a strong painkiller that masks horses’ pain and any pre-existing injuries.  Depending on dosage, it can also act as a stimulant when injected in horses. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug for use in humans or animals.

Hebert faces five years in prison for the conspiracy count and three years in prison for each of the other counts.  Kohll’s Pharmacy faces a substantial fine and other penalties based on its felony conviction. A sentencing date has not been set. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph T. Mickel and David C. Joseph are prosecuting the case.

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