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CVS Health Acknowledges Two of its Florida Pharmacies Sold Oxycodone for Illegitimate Purposes, Agrees to Pay Government $22 Million

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CVS Acknowledges Two of its FL. Pharmacies Sold Oxycodone

CVS Acknowledges Two of its FL. Pharmacies Sold Oxycodone

CVS Health Corp will pay $22 million to settle a three-year federal investigation into whether two of the company’s pharmacies in central Florida sold oxycodone that was not prescribed for legitimate medical purposes.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced the deal Wednesday, officially bringing an end to the probe. According to a news release posted on the DEA’s website, Florida is the nation’s “epicenter” for the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. Prescription drug addicts were traveling to Florida to find doctors who would write prescriptions for oxycodone, a powerful and potentially addictive painkiller, as well as pharmacies that would fill the prescriptions, despite signs that they were illegitimate prescriptions. The investigation led to the DEA’s execution of administrative inspection warrants at the Sanford, Florida pharmacies. The government revoked the pharmacies’ licenses in June 2012.

DEA agents told Reuters that the two pharmacies ordered approximately 3 million oxycodone pills in 2011, ranking 23rd and 37th nationwide among pharmacies in the distribution of oxycodone, and dismissed red flags alerting pharmacy staff that the prescriptions were illegitimate. In a regulatory filing viewed by Reuters, CBS said that the settlement resolves all civil matters in Florida between the DEA and CVS. CVS said it set aside enough money in prior fiscal periods to cover the settlement.

As part of the agreement, CVS “acknowledged that its retail pharmacies had a responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that were issued based on legitimate medical need,” according to the DEA press release. CVS also acknowledged “that certain of its retail stores dispensed certain controlled substances in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the related regulations.” The CSA allows the United States to seek civil penalties for a pharmacy’s failure to responsibly dispense only legitimate prescriptions filled by health care providers for a true medial purpose.

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