CVS Pharmacy fined $535K for filling invalid prescriptions: DOJ

by NCN Health And Science Team Posted on April 17th, 2019

Providence, Rhode Island: CVS Pharmacy reached a settlement Tuesday over allegations its stores in Rhode Island filled invalid prescriptions for Percocet. Pharmacy chain CVS Pharmacy, Inc. has agreed to pay $535,000 to resolve the United States’ allegations that several of its Rhode Island stores violated the federal Controlled Substances Act by filling invalid prescriptions, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Field Division.

The settlement caps an investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island and the DEA Office of Diversion Control of CVS’ conduct at several of its Rhode Island retail pharmacy locations in filling prescriptions for controlled substances with a high potential for abuse. Under the Controlled Substances Act and its implementing regulations, substances such as painkillers and opioids can only be prescribed for legitimate medical purposes by a physician. The law, however, also places a “corresponding responsibility” on the pharmacist filling the prescription to ensure that the prescription is valid and legal.

In this case, the United States alleged that CVS retail pharmacies in Rhode Island filled thirty-nine prescriptions for Percocet, a Schedule II narcotic, that CVS pharmacists had reason to know were forged.

Under the terms of this civil resolution, CVS will pay a civil penalty of $535,000 for its alleged conduct in the State of Rhode Island. CVS, while acknowledging that its pharmacists bear a corresponding responsibility under the Controlled Substances Act, has denied wrongdoing in this case.

United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman commented, “This settlement demonstrates that the Department of Justice remains committed to using all the legal tools at its disposal to ensure that everyone in the chain of controlled substance distribution — from physicians to pharmacists — abides by the strict requirements of the law.”

“DEA registrants like CVS have a corresponding responsibility to dispense controlled substances in accordance with the Controlled Substance Act,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Pharmacies put patients at risk when they dispense Schedule II narcotics, which have the highest potential for abuse, without a valid and legal prescription. Today’s settlement demonstrates DEA’s commitment to work with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure that these rules and regulations are followed.”

This matter was litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Myrus.

The pharmacy chain agreed to pay $535,000 to settle allegations the stores violated the federal Controlled Substances Act by filling 39 prescriptions for Percocet, a Schedule II narcotic, that its pharmacists had reason to know were forged, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island said in a statement.

The settlement puts an end to an investigation by the the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control into allegations CVS’ Rhode Island pharmacies filled prescriptions for controlled substances with high potential for abuse.

“This settlement demonstrates that the Department of Justice remains committed to using all the legal tools at its disposal to ensure that everyone in the chain of controlled substance distribution — from physicians to pharmacists — abides by strict requirements of the law,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron Weisman said.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, CVS acknowledged its pharmacists bear a “corresponding responsibility” to ensure the prescription is valid and legal under the Controlled Substances Act, but denied any wrongdoing in the case.

“DEA registrants like CVS have a corresponding responsibility to dispense controlled substances in accordance with the Controlled Substance Act,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle said. “Pharmacies put patients at risk when they dispense Schedule II narcotics, which have the highest potential for abuse, without a valid and legal prescription.”

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