Settlement Reached In Significant Drug Diversion Case
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – In what is believed to be the largest settlement of its kind in Utah involving allegations of drug diversion, Intermountain Healthcare has agreed to pay the United States $1 million to resolve allegations that lax controls enabled a former employee to divert controlled substances for personal use.
U.S. Attorney John W. Huber and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) District Agent in Charge Brian S. Besser announced the settlement Friday morning.
In conjunction with the monetary settlement, IHC has implemented a comprehensive corrective action plan to prevent, identify, and address future diversions. The settlement is not an admission of liability by Intermountain Healthcare.
“Under the law, healthcare networks such as IHC have a responsibility to ensure that controlled substances are used for patient care and are not diverted for non-medical purposes,” Huber said. “Diversion of these drugs feeds addiction, contributes to potential illegal drug sales, and fuels the opioid epidemic that has had a devastating effect on Utah and the rest of the country. We commend IHC for addressing its diversion problem and for taking steps to ameliorate future diversion by IHC personnel,” Huber said.
The settlement relates to civil claims arising from a diversion of controlled substances at a clinic and pharmacy in the Ogden area. Specifically, the United States contends that from September 2007 through March 2015, a diversion of controlled substances occurred at the clinic under DEA registration numbers for a physician and pharmacy.
A DEA investigation found that a former medical assistant of a doctor at the clinic used the physician’s DEA registration number to issue prescriptions to herself and two family members, including prescriptions for Oxycodone, Diazepam, Phentermine and Hydrocodone.
“With the burgeoning opioid epidemic sweeping across the country and the great State of Utah, the DEA takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure the public’s safety in regard
to the proper prescribing and dispensing of highly-addictive controlled substances made available to our communities through the healthcare industry. DEA is committed to investigating any instances involving the unlawful diversion of powerful synthetic opioids with which many Utahan’s woefully begin their cycle of drug addiction,” Besser said today.
The United States contends, for example, that 244 prescriptions of Oxycodone 30 mg tablets (46,616 pills) were issued without a legitimate medical purpose and not in the course of the doctor’s professional practice. Another 151 prescriptions for controlled substances, totaling 11,430 pills, w ere also issued. The pharmacy filled each of the prescriptions, which were picked up by the former medical assistant. The physician and the pharmacy shared equal responsibility for ensuring the proper prescribing and dispensing of the controlled substances, the United States contends.
The Affirmative Civil Enforcement Division in the United States Attorney’s Office handled the civil action.
Updated December 8, 2017