Robert Courtney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Robert Courtney
Born Robert Ray Courtney
(1952-09-15) September 15, 1952 (age 64)
Hays, Kansas, USA
Alma mater University of Kansas
Occupation Former pharmacist
Criminal charge Pharmaceutical fraud[1]
Criminal penalty 30 years
Criminal status Incarcerated[2]
Spouse(s) Laura Courtney[2]
Children 5[2]

Robert Ray Courtney (born September 15, 1952) is an American former pharmacist who owned and operated Research Medical Tower Pharmacy in Kansas City, Missouri.[1] In 2002 he was convicted of pharmaceutical fraud and sentenced to federal prison.[1] He is currently serving his sentence at Gilmer Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia.

Early life and education[edit]

Courtney was born in Hays, Kansas. His father was a traveling minister based in Scott City, Kansas, and described Courtney as an "ideal son." He played the trombone at Wichita South High School. Courtney graduated from the School of Pharmacy at University of Missouri–Kansas City in 1975.

Adult life[edit]

Before his arrest, Courtney served as a deacon at an Assembly of God church in Kansas City.[3]

In 1990, Courtney began purchasing pharmaceuticals on the gray market and using them to fill prescriptions at his pharmacy.[1] In time he began diluting prescriptions to increase profits.[1] Both practices were illegal.[1]

In 1992, he and his first wife divorced; Courtney retained custody of their two daughters.[1] His second marriage lasted four or five days and was later annulled.[1] In 1994 his third wife, Laura Courtney, gave birth to twins.[2][1]

In 1998, an Eli Lilly sales representative noticed a discrepancy between the amount of the cancer drug Gemzar Courtney bought and the amount he sold. Lilly initiated an internal investigation but found no evidence of illegality and closed the investigation without further action.[1] In 2001, the same Eli Lilly sales representative mentioned the matter to a nurse who worked for an oncologist in Courtney's building and was also one of Courtney's customers.[3] The oncologist had medication that had been supplied by Courtney tested. When the results showed the prescriptions were diluted, the oncologist notified authorities.[1]

According to law enforcement estimates, from 1990 to 2001 Courtney diluted 98,000 prescriptions, which were given to 4,200 patients. Courtney is reported to have diluted 72 different kinds of drugs.[1]

In August 2001, two months before his arrest, Courtney held total assets worth $18.7 million.[1]

In 2002, Courtney pleaded guilty to 20 federal counts of tampering and adulterating the chemotherapy drugs Taxol and Gemzar. He also acknowledged that he and his corporation, Courtney Pharmacy Inc., had weakened drugs, conspired to traffic in stolen drugs and caused the filing of false Medicare claims.[4] He was sentenced to 30 years in Federal Prison.[1]

Courtney also was named as defendant in approximately 300 suits for fraud and wrongful death.[4] In one case a jury awarded the plaintiff, Georgia Hayes, a judgment in the amount of $2.2 billion.[5]

Investigators reported that before turning himself in, Courtney gave $80,000 in cash, and more than 100 doses of Prozac to his wife.[3]

In 2008, an episode of American Greed, entitled "Deadly ℞ For Greed", recounted Courtney's crimes, trial and conviction.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Draper, Robert (June 8, 2003). "The Toxic Pharmacist". New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Ambition gone awry? The life of Robert R. Courtney". Kansas City Star. September 9, 2001. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Deadly Rx For Greed". American Greed (CNBC). 2008. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Thousands of Diluted Drugs". CBS News. April 19, 2002. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Jury awards plaintiff $2.2B in Courtney case". Kansas City Business Journal. October 11, 2002. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 

See also[edit]