Mom Finds Drugs Inside Child's McDonald's Happy Meal, Two Employees Charged

A mother in Auburn, Maine, was shocked to find Suboxone in her child's Happy Meal box last week after leaving the restaurant.

According to police, the Suboxone fell into the box by accident; however, two McDonald's employees have reportedly been fired and charged. Police say they are expected to appear in court on Nov. 3.

In a statement posted to their official Facebook page, Auburn Police said that on June 30, detectives received a call that a mother had found Suboxone in her 11-year-old son's Happy Meal box. After an "extensive review" of the store's surveillance footage, police identified the employee responsible for the incident.

Footage showed that the employee had Suboxone in his shirt pocket while preparing the meal, police said. When he bent over to retrieve something from the counter, the Suboxone  — along with a Bic pen — fell into the Happy Meal box unnoticed. Police claim that the employee didn't notice the missing Suboxone until the incident was later brought to the attention of the store.

Though the Happy Meal incident was accidental, the two employees involved were subsequently fired and charged because the employee had obtained the Suboxone illegally from another employee earlier in their shift.

"In our restaurants, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our employees and customers," Taylor Goble, owner/operator of the McDonald's said in a statement obtained by Newsweek. "I was shocked and disappointed by the behavior of these crew members, which goes against the values we have as an organization and will not be tolerated. These individuals are no longer employed by my organization. We are taking this matter seriously so that we can continue to maintain our high standards."

Auburn Police have charged Michael Sevey, 43, with Unlawful Possession of Schedule (W) drugs, Class D; and Mariah Grant, 29, with Unlawful Trafficking in Scheduled Drugs (W), class B.

Police said McDonald's management cooperated with their investigation.

Suboxone is a drug used to help those suffering from opioid addiction and is made up of two ingredients: Buprenorphine and naloxone. In the past, only doctors who held a special certificate from the Department of Health and Human Services, known as the "X-waiver," could prescribe the drug.

Many believe that this waiver prevented many patients from receiving treatment, which could be one reason why Suboxone is often sold on the black market. However, those buying the drug illegally are not trying to get high, says Addiction Center; instead, they are trying to get relief from their opioid withdrawal.

The guidelines surrounding buprenorphine, one of the key drugs found in Suboxone, have changed several times over the past six months as a result of a rise in opioid-related deaths. In January, NPR reported that the Trump administration released federal guidelines that enabled doctors to prescribe buprenorphine without the X-waiver. This move would have given more patients access to the drug for proper treatment.

"The medical evidence is clear: access to medication-assisted treatment, including buprenorphine that can be prescribed in office-based settings, is the gold standard for treating individuals suffering from opioid use disorder," said Adm. Brett P. Giroir, former assistant secretary for HHS, per NPR. "Removing some of the certification requirements for an X-waiver for physicians is a step toward providing more people struggling with this chronic disease access to medication-assisted treatment."

However, as reported by The Hill in April, The Biden administration immediately halted these guidelines after taking office in January. But in April, after overdose deaths reached their highest point as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration released new guidelines, again removing the need for the X-waiver but with a few stipulations.

Now, a variety of practitioners can treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine without undergoing special training, so long as they send send "a notice of intent to prescribe buprenorphine from HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)." Those practitioners who seek to treat more than 30 people will need to hold federal waivers.

7/8/2021: This story has been updated to include a comment from Taylor Goble.

Suboxone
A mother in Auburn, Maine found Suboxone in her son's Happy Meal box last week. Police determined that the incident was an accident; however, two former employees have been charged, one for unlawful possession of drugs, the other for unlawful trafficking of drugs. Spencer Platt / Staff/Getty