Walgreens has agreed to a settlement with the federal government that will cost the company about $80 million. The DEA accused Walgreens of committing an “unprecedented” number of record-keeping and dispensing violations of the Controlled Substances Act. Walgreens was said to have negligently allowed controlled substances such as the narcotic oxycodone and other prescription painkillers to be distributed to abusers and sold illegally on the black market. Mark Trouville, special agent in charge in the DEA’s Miami field division, said in a statement:
National pharmaceutical chains are not exempt from following the law. All DEA registrants will be held accountable when they violate the law and threaten public health and safety.
Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness, in a statement said the company has taken and will take further steps to improve oversight and training “to ensure the appropriate dispensing of controlled substances and to improve collaboration across the industry.” The settlement with the Deerfield, Illinois-based company also resolves a probe by U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer in Miami. Walgreens operates more than 8,000 drug stores in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
As part of the settlement, Walgreens admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant. Six Walgreens pharmacies in Florida and a distribution center in Jupiter, Fla., were given a two-year ban from dispensing various controlled substances, according to the DEA. Walgreens also agreed to enhance training and compliance programs, and set up a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to help prevent similar violations. Florida has long been considered a center of prescription drug abuse, and the DEA has dismantled dozens of sham clinics known as “pill mills” where doctors have written prescriptions for drug dealers and addicts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the U.S. death rate from drug overdoses has more than tripled since 1990. It said prescription painkillers, also known as opioid or narcotic pain relievers, were involved in more than 15,500 overdose deaths in the United States in 2009. Walgreens had previously set aside $80 million for a settlement, including $25 million in its fiscal third quarter, which ended May 31st.
Source: Insurance Journal
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