Walgreen Settlement Results in $80M Payment Over Painkiller Violations
The DEA has announced a massive $80 million settlement reached with Walgreens Corporation, over allegations that the nationwide pharmacy giant allowed several stores to illegally sell OxyContin and other powerful painkillers.
The Walgreen settlement is the largest the DEA has entered into under the Controlled Substances Act.
The agreement resolves several allegations against Walgreens, which was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
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The law enforcement agencies indicated that Walgreens failed to comply with federal regulations, allowing several Florida area retail pharmacies to illegally sell controlled substances, such as OxyContin and other prescription narcotic painkillers. The corporation also allowed its Jupiter, Florida distribution center, the largest supplier of OxyContin to retail pharmacies in Florida, to distribute excessive amounts of controlled substances, knowing they would be sold on the black market.
The DEA said Walgreens committed an “unprecedented number” of dispensing violations under the Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, the distribution center failed to report suspicious prescription drug orders from retail outlets to the DEA for further investigation.
An investigation into the illegal activity was launched in 2010, after the Hudson, Florida retail location placed orders for 913,000 units of OxyContin, sold generically as oxycodone. This amount increased from only 388,000 in 2009.
The following year, the Hudson store placed orders for more than 2.1 million units of the narcotic pain killer. This compares to the national average of 73,000 units for pharmacy purchases of OxyContin or its generic equivalents.
Walgreens failed to report suspicious increases in prescription narcotic pain killer orders like this in six Florida area retail pharmacies resulting in tens of thousands of violations.
“Walgreens admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant,” said the DEA announcement.
Growing narcotic overdose problems
Prescription drug overdose deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths and deaths from illegal street drugs, such as cocaine heroin and amphetamines, in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Walgreens is the nation’s largest drug store chain and operates more than 8,000 drug stores in all 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The settlement also revokes Walgreens ability to distribute schedule II–V controlled substances for two years.
The Deerfield, Illinois based company is also required to create a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity, which will be responsible for the regulatory compliance of controlled substances. Also, as a result of the investigations and settlement, the company will no longer monetarily compensate pharmacists based on the volume of prescriptions filled.
“Prescription drug abuse is a tremendous problem in Florida and throughout the country,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “Every day, individuals die from prescription drug overdoses. The record-keeping requirements of the Controlled Substances Act and DEA regulations are designed to prevent prescription pain killers, like oxycodone, from ending up on our streets.”
MaryJanuary 23, 2015 at 1:36 am
Wal-greens started refusing to fill my prescriptions and put my doctor on the cash doctor list. I was so embarrassed when the pharmist who was filling my script stated that I paid my doctor cash (I used my bank card I will not get medicare for another year) in front of the other people in line. I was pre-existing and could not get medical insurance until now. I get insurance in March but I do n[Show More]Wal-greens started refusing to fill my prescriptions and put my doctor on the cash doctor list. I was so embarrassed when the pharmist who was filling my script stated that I paid my doctor cash (I used my bank card I will not get medicare for another year) in front of the other people in line. I was pre-existing and could not get medical insurance until now. I get insurance in March but I do not know if the new doctor will be on their no-fill list. Mary
Concerned...August 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm
It appears by your writing that you are severely drug impaired. Please seek help!
scottDecember 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm
This pharmacy chain is the most crked outfit in the world ,they lie to customers about there regns on distribution of the medications,on 12-10-13 I was denied medication in which was medicaly neccesary by the phamisist and her tec, while I was discussihe that they were causing me a custmer threarened me and my amutee wife, whan I asked them to call 911 for police assistance they would not call so[Show More]This pharmacy chain is the most crked outfit in the world ,they lie to customers about there regns on distribution of the medications,on 12-10-13 I was denied medication in which was medicaly neccesary by the phamisist and her tec, while I was discussihe that they were causing me a custmer threarened me and my amutee wife, whan I asked them to call 911 for police assistance they would not call so I had to go accross the street to call and when the police came the store management would not tellng about the threat they only helped the suspect disapeard not nor did wallgreens, I had been a custom fo over 25 years and flile civil suite against them. This is malpratice and medical neglect. The don\'t need to distribute drugs for them it is only about the money!
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