KC pharmacist who diluted drugs to be released from prison. Victims want more charges

A Kansas City pharmacist convicted of diluting prescription drugs will be released to a halfway house in June, and families are calling for him to be charged with murder.

Robert Courtney was convicted of diluting patients’ medications to treat cancer, AIDS and more. Authorities estimated that his scheme could have touched 4,200 patients.

The 71-year-old was sentenced in federal court in December 2002 to a maximum of 30 years, according to court records. Bureau of Prisons records show Courtney is incarcerated at the federal prison in Littleton, Colorado.

According to a letter sent to victims and their families, Courtney will be released June 20 to a halfway house in Springfield. He will remain there until his release on May 2, 2026.

Attorney Michael Ketchmark, who represented 275 families in wrongful death lawsuits against Courtney, said in a phone interview Monday that his phone “has been lit up all day with Robert Courtney’s victims.”

“The raw pain and emotion is overwhelming,” he said.

Ketchmark noted that Courtney has not been charged by the state for murder, which does not have a statute of limitations.

“In my opinion, he is one of the most prolific serial killers,” Ketchmark said. “He diluted chemotherapy drugs that people need when they’re fighting for their life and he took away their hope and he took away the life of his victims.”

Ketchmark called on the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office to bring charges.

“It’s our hope that that will happen. There’s plenty of justice still to be delivered to this man. He should never walk free again.”

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said they just recently heard of Courtney’s upcoming release “which concerns us,” but declined to comment further.

Attorneys for Courtney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During an investigation that began in mid-2001, Courtney admitted to diluting 72 different medications over nearly a decade. Most were cancer treatment drugs, but others could have been used to treat AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and other diseases.

Courtney’s insurance company agreed to pay $35 million to victims, and two pharmaceutical makers paid $71 million in settlements.

In 2020, Courtney requested an early release or compassionate release in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those motions provoked backlash from victims as well as elected officials and were ultimately denied.