Thousands of painkillers missing from 4 CVS stores

March 14, 2014

CVS Caremark Corp. faces as much as $29 million in fines associated with 37,000 prescription painkillers that are missing from four of its California stores, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

CVS Caremark Corp. faces as much as $29 million in fines associated with 37,000 prescription painkillers that are missing from four of its California stores, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The pills were taken from CVS stores in Modesto, Fairfield, Dixon, and Turlock, and may have been sold on the black market, according to the report.

Casey Rettig, a special agent in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Francisco office, said warrants have been served on the four CVS stores. 

CVS faces 2,973 possible violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act for alleged discrepancies between the company's records and its inventory of prescription drugs, said Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento. CVS faces a maximum of $29 million in fines.

Virginia Herold, executive officer of the state Board of Pharmacy, said the missing pills are all painkillers such as Vicodin and could be worth $10 each on the street.

 

The U.S. attorney’s office said CVS has not responded to a letter federal prosecutors sent the chain outlining the alleged violations and seeking more information.

According to the report, in 2012 a DEA investigator first learned of the missing hydrocodone tablets from CVS stores. During a subsequent investigation, a CVS pharmacy worker in Rocklin was seen hiding a bottle of hydrocodone in her pants. That worker admitted stealing more than 20,000 hydrocodone pills and was charged with embezzlement.

When DEA officials took a closer look at CVS’ records, it discovered 16,000 hydrocodone tablets missing from the Turlock store, 11,000 from the Fairfield store, and almost 5,000 each from the Modesto and Dixon stores, the report said.

Last April, CVS paid $11 million to settle charges from federal prosecutors in Oklahoma that the chain created fake DEA license numbers on dispensing records, filled prescriptions for doctors without valid licenses, and improperly labeled prescription vials.

Herold told the paper that, last year, the California State Board of Pharmacy issued 144 warnings, citations, or fines against pharmacies. She said 55 of those incidents involved CVS.

 

Michael DeAngelis, a CVS spokesman, told the paper that said the investigations are aimed at "assuring compliance with state and federal requirements for administrative record keeping related to invoices and inventory for controlled substances."

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