As part of a $795,000 settlement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, CVS Pharmacy will require its pharmacy staff in that state to check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) before filling prescriptions for commonly-misused opioids.
The agreement between CVS and Massachusetts requiring the PMP check prior to dispensing opioids is believed to be the first in the nation.
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The settlement resolves allegations that CVS failed to provide its Massachusetts pharmacists with a way to access the Massachusetts Online Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) prior to March, 2013.
Maura HealeyThe assurance and settlement agreement also resolve allegations that certain CVS pharmacies in Massachusetts failed to monitor drug use patterns or use sound professional judgment when dispensing controlled substances, particularly opioids, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General.
“Through this groundbreaking settlement, these pharmacists will be better equipped to responsibly dispense opioids and will be required to use the PMP, which is a vital resource in preventing the misuse of opioids,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
A CVS spokesperson said the company “recognizes the importance of the state’s PMP as a tool to detect and prevent the abuse and misuse of controlled substances. CVS provides its pharmacists access to the PMP website, trains its pharmacists to register for and use the PMP as appropriate, and has further agreed to implement policies requiring pharmacists to consult the PMP before dispensing certain opioids in Massachusetts.”
Healey’s Medicaid Fraud Division conducted an investigation into CVS after a referral from the state’s Medicaid program (MassHealth) relating to the state’s Controlled Substance Management Program (CSMP). A subsequent investigation by AG Healey’s Consumer Protection Division related to the PMP discovered that CVS failed to provide sufficient internet connectivity to access the online program.
The AG’s investigation found that in certain instances, CVS pharmacies in Massachusetts dispensed controlled substances to MassHealth members enrolled in the CSMP in exchange for an out-of-pocket payment, which the AG’s Office alleges is a violation of state laws and regulations. The AG’s Office further alleges that some of these transactions occurred despite a prior denial by MassHealth of a claim for the same controlled substance on the same day.
Many of the more than 350 CVS pharmacies in Massachusetts are MassHealth providers and therefore must comply with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations governing its participation in the program.
As a result of the agreement, CVS will require its entire Massachusetts pharmacy staff to access the PMP website and review the prescription holder’s prescription history before dispensing certain prescribed drugs.