PharmScript of KS LLC agrees to pay $3 million to resolve allegations that it improperly dispensed controlled substances at long-term care facilities
KANSAS CITY, KAN. - PharmScript of KS, LLC, a long-term care pharmacy in Lenexa, Kansas, has agreed to pay $3 million to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by dispensing controlled substances to residents in nursing and long-term care facilities without valid prescriptions and that the company was wrongfully reimbursed by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
PharmScript of KS, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of PharmScript Holdco, LLC and provides medication and pharmaceutical services to patients in skilled nursing facilities and to residents in assisted living facilities in Kansas and Missouri. PharmScript of KS, LLC self-reported violations of the Controlled Substances Act to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which conducted its own investigation.
“This resolution sends a message that there are rules to be followed when dispensing controlled substances,” said Duston Slinkard, United States Attorney for the District of Kansas. “This office makes it a priority to protect patients from being supplied drugs without valid prescriptions and to ensure that the limited federal program resources are spent according to federal law.”
Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Davis heads the Drug Enforcement Administration division that leads DEA investigations in Kansas and Missouri.
“Because opioids are highly addictive, doctors and pharmacies have a duty to ensure they are prescribing controlled medications according to law to protect their patients’ health and safety,” said Davis. “PharmScript’s dispensing practices were so egregious, it warranted a significant civil penalty.”
“Improperly dispensing opioids undermines critical measures to address the opioid crisis and puts vulnerable patients at serious risk of overdose and harm,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG will continue to ensure that bad actors are held accountable for disregarding the safety and well-being of patients.”
In nearly all circumstances, Schedule II controlled substances require a written prescription by a physician, and refills are not permitted by law. The Controlled Substances Act allows pharmacists to dispense Schedule II controlled substances, such as opioid pain medications, without a written prescription only in true emergency situations. When allowed for emergencies, it is only for the quantity of drugs necessary to treat the patient during the emergency period. Emergency prescriptions must promptly be reduced to writing and signed by an authorizing physician within seven days of issuance. Failure to meet these requirements results in an illegal dispensing of controlled substances without a valid prescription.
The federal government alleged that between October 1, 2019, through March 31, 2021, PharmScript of KS, LLC dispensed Schedule II controlled substances for purported emergencies when quantities of the controlled substances dispensed were greater than what was adequate for the emergency period and that PharmScript of KS, LLC failed to obtain written prescriptions within seven days after a verbal authorization. The government also alleged that other controlled substances were dispensed without a written prescription and when no verbal authorization was received from a physician.
The government also resolved claims that PharmScript of KS, LLC was improperly paid by the Medicare and Medicaid programs for dispensing controlled substances without valid prescriptions.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Control Division, Kansas City Field Office, the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas.
The case was handled by Jon Fleenor, Assistant United States Attorney and Affirmative Civil Enforcement Coordinator.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs office.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.