DEA Columbia Holds 22nd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to Prevent Addiction and Reduce Overdose Deaths
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Savitz Drug Store, Inc., has agreed to pay $275,000 to resolve allegations that it committed recordkeeping and dispensing violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). These requirements are designed to prevent the diversion of controlled substances.
This civil settlement includes a corrective action plan and is the culmination of a joint investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA); S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Bureau of Drug Control (DHEC); and U.S. Attorney’s Office that began in March 2022, when a routine controlled substance inspection by S.C. DHEC revealed that Savitz could not account for approximately 22,056 milliliters of Promethazine with Codeine.
“When pharmacists fail to comply with federal law, they can put controlled substances on the street and place the public at great risk,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “Our office is committed to working with our partners to hold pharmacists accountable for their responsibilities under federal law.”
“The mission of DEA’s Office of Diversion Control is to prevent, detect and investigate the diversion of controlled pharmaceutical and listed chemicals from legitimate sources,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Atlanta Division of the DEA. “In this case, DEA Diversion Investigators did an outstanding job of uncovering this pharmacist’s systemic record-keeping violations and failures to safeguard controlled substances.”
The United States alleges that the Pharmacist-in-Charge of Savitz failed to properly safeguard his Controlled Substance Ordering System (CSOS) private user identification login and password, which resulted in a staff Pharmacist using the CSOS login and password to order controlled substances at least one hundred times.
The United States further alleges that due to Savitz’s failure to maintain complete and accurate controlled substance records and necessary oversight, a tenured Pharmacy Technician at Savitz was able to divert 46 bottles of Promethazine with Codeine (Schedule V) from Savitz over a three-month timeframe. Promethazine with Codeine is a cough syrup that can be used as the main ingredient in a drink mixture commonly known as “Lean” or “Purple Drank.” Effects of “Lean” or “Purple Drank” are consistent with the abuse characteristics of other opioids and result in a sedative and woozy or swooning euphoria.
The conduct outlined in the settlement agreement is merely alleged; the agreement does not constitute an admission of liability by Savitz.
A main objective of the CSA is controlling illegitimate traffic in controlled substances. To prevent the diversion of controlled substances, the CSA regulates persons, companies, and other entities that manufacture, distribute, and dispense controlled substances.
This matter was investigated by DHEC Agent Ann Shields, DEA Acting Group Supervisor Derek Barr, DEA Investigator Kelli Capehart, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Johanna Valenzuela of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.
Brook Andrews, U.S. Attorney’s Office, email@example.com, (803) 929-3000