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Jan. 7, 2009

WAL-MART STORES INC. PAYS FINE FOR ALLEGED RECORD-KEEPING VIOLATIONS

(HOUSTON) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., including facilities doing business as Wal-Mart Pharmacy and Sam’s Club Pharmacy, has paid the Southern District of Texas a $637,000 fine to resolve numerous alleged record-keeping violations of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The fine was paid on Dec. 29, 2008. The settlement was finalized yesterday without an admission of liability and without commencement of litigation.

“The illegal diversion of controlled substances is a threat to public health and safety,” Johnson said. “Today’s fine should serve as a reminder to the pharmaceutical industry of its accountability to the public. The public should be reassured by the enforcement efforts of the DEA as well as the industry’s general overall compliance.”

Wal-Mart is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Bentonville, AR. Among other things, Wal-Mart operates Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club retail pharmacies throughout the United States and is in the business of dispensing branded and generic prescription drugs, as well as over-the-counter medications, to retail consumers throughout the United States. In furtherance of this business objective, Wal-Mart operates more than 4,000 retail pharmacy facilities in the United States, including the numerous facilities in the Southern District of Texas. Each Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club pharmacy is separately registered with DEA and is assigned a unique DEA registration number to dispense controlled substances as required by the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801et seq. (CSA). Wal-Mart is required to operate all its facilities in accordance with the statutory and regulatory provisions of the CSA.       
  
On July 18, 2006, five Notices of Inspection were issued at five area Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Pharmacies in the Southern District of Texas by the DEA Houston Division Office Diversion Group. The notices authorized DEA to conduct controlled substance accountability audits for 20 controlled substances at each location served. The five investigated pharmacies lacked the required records to prevent diversion of controlled substances thus violating the CSA. Specifically, from May 1, 2005 through July 18, 2006, the five facilities negligently failed to make, keep or furnish records and reports, including invoices of controlled substances, as required by the CSA and the applicable regulations promulgated therein. The accountability audits did not match the drugs on hand revealing major overages and shortages in the accountability of controlled substances, and there were missing invoices for controlled substances all in violation of the CSA. The investigation expanded to other facilities and revealed that several Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club pharmacies either did not file or did not timely file statutorily required reports of loss and/or theft with DEA. DEA registrants are required to file and timely file DEA forms to report suspected thefts or losses of controlled substances. Because of the pharmacies’ lack of proper record keeping, a variety of Schedule II, III, IV and V controlled substances were lost or stolen and possibly diverted. 

The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Jill O. Venezia of the Civil Division.

 

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