Walgreens agrees to pay $80 million in DEA settlement

July 15, 2013

Walgreens, the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, has agreed to pay $80 million in civil penalties for record-keeping and dispensing violations under the Controlled Substances Act, according to statements released June 11 by the company and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

 

Walgreens, the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, has agreed to pay $80 million in civil penalties for record-keeping and dispensing violations under the Controlled Substances Act, according to statements released June 11 by the company and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The DEA settlement, the largest in the agency’s history, resolves all pending litigation and requires that the pharmacy chain surrender its DEA registrations at six of its Florida pharmacies until May 2014 and at its Jupiter distribution center until September 2014. At the distribution center, Walgreens did not report to the DEA suspicious prescription drug orders that it received from its retail pharmacies, according to DEA.

The DEA stated that Walgreens had “an unprecedented number of record-keeping and dispensing violations under the Act,” which resulted in oxycodone and other pain medications being diverted for abuse and illegal sale on the black market.

“Walgreens’ alleged failure to sufficiently report suspicious orders was a systematic practice that resulted in at least tens of thousands of violations and allowed Walgreens’ retail pharmacies to order and receive at least three times the Florida average for drugs such as oxycodone,” according to the DEA.

In addition to the civil penalty and the revoked DEA registrations, Walgreens has agreed to create a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to ensure compliance and prevent diversion of controlled substances, DEA said.

“Walgreens has also agreed to enhance its training and compliance programs, and to no longer monetarily or otherwise compensate its pharmacists based on the volume of prescriptions filled,” according to DEA.

Kermit Crawford, Walgreens’ president of pharmacy, health and wellness, said in a prepared statement, “We are fully committed to doing our part to prevent prescription drug abuse. We also will continue to advocate for solutions that involve all parties – including leaders in the community, physicians, pharmacies, distributors and regulators – to play a role in finding practical solutions that combat the abuse of controlled substances and ensure patient access to critical medications.”