Cardinal gets temporary restraining order to halt DEA’s suspension of Florida distribution center

February 7, 2012

Cardinal Health has requested a temporary restraining order to block a Drug Enforcement Administration suspension halting controlled-substance shipments from its Lakeland, Fla., distribution center. DEA suspended Cardinal’s distribution license for the Lakeland facility last Friday.

Cardinal Health has received a temporary restraining order to block a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) suspension halting controlled-substance shipments from its Lakeland, Fla., distribution center. DEA had suspended Cardinal’s distribution license for the Lakeland facility last Friday.

DEA alleges that 4 of Cardinal’s retail pharmacy customers were filling controlled-substance prescriptions written for other than a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of medical practice. The Lakeland distribution center, which now remains open, serves more than 2,500 independent, chain, and hospital customers in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

A hearing on the suspension order was set for Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C.

“Without providing us an opportunity to respond, the DEA issued an immediate suspension order,” Cardinal CEO George Barrett said during a call with financial analysts. “We are outraged that the DEA took this action. We are being held accountable for portions of the supply chain that we do not control. That is why today’s action by the DEA is wrong.”

However, the U.S. Department of Justice, in a press release, pointed out that action had been taken against Cardinal's Lakeland center previously. In 2007, distribution there was suspended as the result of "distribution of hydroocone to 'rogue' internet pharmacies." That action, and others, the Department of Justice said, resulted in fines of $34 million.

Saturday, DEA agents also raided 2 CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Fla., according to news reports, and both stores had their licenses to dispense controlled substances suspended. CVS/pharmacy said in a written response that, with DEA's knowledge, the company already has "informed a small number of Florida physicians that CVS/pharmacy will no longer fill prescriptions they write for Schedule II narcotics."