CVS to pay $22 million to settle illegal dispensing charges

May 14, 2015

CVS Health has agreed to pay a $22 million penalty following an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that found two of the chain’s Florida pharmacies had dispensed controlled substances without legitimate prescriptions.

CVS Health has agreed to pay a $22 million penalty following an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that found two of the chain’s Florida pharmacies had dispensed controlled substances without legitimate prescriptions.

See also: 50,000 painkillers stolen from pharmacy

As part of the crackdown on Florida’s so-called “pill mill” prescribers and pharmacies, DEA officials in 2012 banned two CVS pharmacies from dispensing controlled substances. The two pharmacies in Sanford, Fla., allegedly distributed controlled substances without legitimate prescriptions.

"Prescription drug addicts were traveling to Florida, known as the nation's epicenter for the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, for access to physicians who were prescribing pain medication without regard to medical need and to pharmacies that were filling the prescriptions despite red flags that they were illegitimate," said a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Click here to read the DEA statement

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, the DEA investigation found that pharmacists at the specified Sanford locations filled prescriptions for customers asking for “the Ms” or “the blues.” Those terms are slang for oxycodone.

 

Many of the customers traveled to South Florida from as far away as Kentucky, obtained painkiller prescriptions from pill-mill doctors, and filled them at pharmacies that did not question the legitimacy of the prescriptions.

DEA officials said CVS acknowledged that it had failed its responsibility to dispense only prescriptions that were issued for a legitimate medical need.

In 2013, Walgreens paid an $80 million penalty to settle DEA charges that it had engaged in similar practices.