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Press Release

United States Reaches $22 Million Settlement Agreement With CVS For Unlawful Distribution Of Controlled Substances

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Orlando, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces today that CVS Health has agreed to pay $22 million to resolve allegations that two of its retail stores in the City of Sanford distributed controlled substances based on prescriptions that had not been issued for legitimate medical purposes by a health care provider acting in the usual course of professional practice. CVS acknowledged that its retail pharmacies had a responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that were issued based on legitimate medical need.  CVS further acknowledged that certain of its retail stores dispensed certain controlled substances in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations under the Controlled Substances Act and the related regulations.

The Controlled Substances Act 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 Controlled Substances Act.

This settlement caps off an investigation that began as part of DEA’s crackdown on pill mills in Florida. Prescription drug addicts were travelling to Florida, known as the nation’s epicenter for the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, for access to physicians who were prescribing pain medication without regard to medical need and to pharmacies that were filling the prescriptions despite red flags that they were illegitimate. The investigation led to DEA’s execution of administrative inspection warrants at two CVS stores in Sanford. As a result, the DEA licenses of both stores were revoked in June 2012.

“Prescription drug abuse continues to be a problem in Florida and throughout the country,” said U.S. Attorney Bentley. “We are using all of the tools at our disposal to combat this problem, including civil penalties for pharmacies that fail to comply with the Controlled Substances Act.”

This settlement illustrates the United States Attorney’s Office efforts to address the wrongdoing that occurred at the height of Florida’s pill mill crisis.

This matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Group in Orlando. It was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine M. Ho.

Updated February 4, 2016

Prescription Drugs