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Press Release

Omnicare Agrees To Pay Over $15 Million To Resolve Allegations It Improperly Dispensed Opioids At Long-Term Care Facilities

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

SALT LAKE CITY – Omnicare, Inc., a subsidiary of CVS Health and a provider of pharmacy services to long-term care facilities, has agreed to pay the United States a $15.3 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by, among other things, allowing opioids and other controlled substances to be dispensed without a valid prescription, United States Attorney John W. Huber announced today.

The Cincinnati-based Omnicare operates “closed door” pharmacies – meaning they are not open to the public – that deliver controlled substances to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Omnicare makes daily deliveries of prescription medications to residents of LTCFs, and it also pre-positions limited stockpiles of controlled substances at LTCFs in “emergency kits,” which are to be dispensed to patients on an emergency basis. These emergency kits, which often include opioids and other controlled substances that are commonly abused and diverted, remain part of Omnicare’s inventory and must be tightly controlled and tracked. The controlled substances may be dispensed only pursuant to a valid prescription.

The United States alleged that Omnicare violated the federal Controlled Substances Act in its handling of emergency prescriptions, its controls over the emergency kits, and its processing of written prescriptions that lacked required elements such as the prescriber’s signature or DEA number. The federal investigation found that Omnicare failed to control emergency kits by improperly permitting LTCFs to remove opioids and other controlled substances from emergency kits days before doctors provided a valid prescription. The investigation also revealed that Omnicare had repeated failures in its documentation and reporting of oral emergency prescriptions of Schedule II controlled substances.

The Omnicare pharmacies in Utah are Omnicare of Salt Lake City and Omnicare of St. George.

As part of the settlement agreement announced today, Omnicare agreed to pay the $15.3 million civil penalty and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration that will require Omnicare to increase its auditing and monitoring of emergency kits placed at LTCFs.

“In Utah, we understand the dangers involved with opioids.  We understand how carefully they must be managed and accounted for. Omnicare failed on several fronts, including dispensing opioids without a valid prescription and failing to report losses of opioids and other drugs,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today. “Controls are in place to make sure that companies dispensing these drugs are doing it correctly and safely. When these controls are not followed, penalties like we see in this case will be imposed.”

 “Omnicare failed in its responsibility to ensure proper controls of medications used to treat some of the most vulnerable among us,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon.  “DEA is committed to keeping our communities safe by holding companies like Omnicare accountable for such failures, while ensuring continuity of care and necessary access to emergency prescription drug supplies.”

This matter was investigated by the DEA’s Field Divisions in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, in conjunction with five United States Attorney’s Offices: the District of Utah, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the District of Colorado, and the District of Oregon. The settlement agreement, which was finalized on May 6, resolves Omnicare’s civil liability for the alleged CSA violations in those five districts.

The claims settled by this civil agreement are allegations.  In entering into this settlement, Omnicare did not admit to any liability.

Assistant United States Attorneys Carra Cadman and Sandra Steinvoort of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City represented Utah in the matter.


Updated May 13, 2020