U.S. Attorney's Office, PharMerica Enter Into Settlement Agreement
Agreement Involves the Dispensation on Schedule II Controlled Substances
ROANOKE, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy announced today that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia has entered into a civil settlement agreement with PharMerica Corporation regarding the unlawful dispensation of schedule II controlled substances.
PharMerica, a non-public pharmacy in Vinton, Va., fills prescriptions for patients in long term care facilities and operates pursuant to a certificate of registration issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA].
In accordance with the DEA’s regulatory authority over registered pharmacies, a DEA Diversion Task Force investigator examined the schedule II prescriptions filled by PharMerica’s Vinton pharmacy between May 8, 2008 and July 22, 2009. This investigation revealed 228 occasions whereas PharMerica’s Vinton pharmacy violated the Controlled Substance Act [CSA].
“The problem of prescription drug abuse and addiction continues to plague communities across Virginia,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “To minimize the risk of abuse, we must do all we can to ensure that everyone in the chain of distribution of prescription drugs follows proper procedures. Our newly-formed DEA Diversion Task Force is doing this important work and will continue to enforce the laws governing prescription drugs in the Western District of Virginia.”
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and PharMerica agreed that PharMerica would pay the United States $213,283 or $935.45 for each violation of the CSA. PharMerica also agreed to maintain a program to ensure future compliance with the CSA, including that schedule II controlled substances only be dispensed pursuant to valid prescriptions. In investigating this matter, the United States Attorney’s Office found that PharMerica’s 228 CSA violations represented only three percent of its total schedule II prescriptions filled between May 8, 2008 and July 22, 2009.
Had this matter not been settled through a civil settlement, the United States was prepared to prove in a civil suit that PharMerica’s Vinton pharmacy violated the CSA on 228 occasions when it:
- 25 times dispensed Schedule II controlled substances where the practitioners’ signatures were never obtained on prescriptions.
- 38 times dispensed schedule II controlled substances from emergency boxes in long-term care facilities with no valid prescription within seven days.
- 20 times emergency dispensed schedule II controlled substances with no valid prescription within seven days.
- 14 times dispensed schedule II controlled substances without practitioners’ signatures when dispensed or in non-emergency situations dispensed schedule II drugs after the prescription had expired.
- 27 times dispensed schedule II controlled substances without the patients’ correct addresses on the prescription.
- 104 dispensed schedule II controlled substances without the practitioners’ correct names, correct DEA registration numbers and correct prescribing dates on the prescriptions.
This matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecution by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Eckert.