United States Reaches $8 Million Settlement Agreement with CVS for Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substances
Baltimore, Maryland – CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (CVS) has agreed to pay $8 million to the United States to resolve allegations that its Maryland pharmacies violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) by dispensing controlled substances pursuant to prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose.
The settlement agreement was announced today by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division.
“Pharmacies that dispense controlled substances have a duty ensure that prescriptions they fill were issued for legitimate medical purposes,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. “Doctors and pharmacists are the gatekeepers of the effort to prevent the abuse and diversion of pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes.”
“The abuse of prescription drugs has rampantly spread throughout our communities,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder. “This abuse has directly resulted in the escalation of heroin addiction and related overdoses. Today’s settlement sends a clear message to all pharmacies that it is essential to dispense controlled substances in compliance with DEA’s record keeping requirements. DEA is dedicated to combat the prescription drug abuse problem in Maryland and throughout the country and to hold nationwide chains, like CVS, accountable.”
The CSA authorizes the United States to seek civil penalties for a pharmacy’s failure to fulfill its corresponding responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that have been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a health care provider acting in the usual course of professional practice. Knowingly filling an illegitimate prescription subjects a pharmacy to civil penalties under the CSA.
According to the settlement agreement, CVS acknowledged that between 2008 and 2012 certain CVS pharmacy stores in Maryland dispensed controlled substances, including oxycodone, fentanyl and hydrocodone, in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations under the CSA and related regulations. This included failing to comply with a pharmacist’s liability to ensure the controlled substance prescriptions were issued for a legitimate medical purpose. This settlement caps off an investigation that began as part of the DEA’s crackdown on prescription drug abuse in Maryland.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, Baltimore Division for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Thomas F. Corcoran, who handled the case.