November 22, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

Walgreens to Pay $80 Million Oxycodone Settlement with DEA

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Walgreens pharmacies and a drug distribution center in South Florida were under investigation by the DEA, and charged with enabling a black market in prescription drugs. The DEA claimed improper tracking and monitoring allowed large quantities of pain killers to be diverted to illegal and undocumented sales.

Walgreens will pay the largest settlement in DEA history – approximately $80 Million in civil penalties, to settle the case of  alleged improper tracking, documenting, and distribution flow management of controlled substances in pharmacies, warehouse and distribution facilities.

According to reports, Walgreens’ Distribution Center in Jupiter, Florida was “the largest supplier of oxycodone to retail pharmacies in the State of Florida”. We reported earlier on DEA investigations into the Jupiter distribution center and noted how Walgreens seemed to clamp down on pain killer prescriptions, often to the dismay of Walgreens customers. Some CVS pharmacies in Florida lost their licenses to DEA actions, despite warnings that the volume of pain killers dispensed (over 3 million) was alarming.

The DEA had relied on required prescription tracking and monitoring as well as prescribing data to uncover the high levels of oxycodone and other commonly-abused drug prescribing in the CVS case. But Walgreens was charged with utilizing flawed monitoring systems which prevented the DEA from observing the volume of orders.

the Jupiter Distribution Center failed to comply with DEA regulations that required it to report to the DEA suspicious prescription drug orders that it received from Walgreens’ retail pharmacies. 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.
- DEA Bulletin

Walgreens is no longer permitted to compensate pharmacists for the volume of prescriptions they fill. Certain Walgreens pharmacies are unable to dispense Schedule 2,3 and 4 drugs for 2 years, although the time schedule for the ban is retroactive to the date of prior DEA actions to stop prescribing:

In addition to the $80 million civil penalty for the above violations, the settlement revokes the Registrants’ ability to distribute or dispense controlled substances listed in Schedules II – V for two years, ending in 2014.  As part of the settlement, Walgreens admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant regarding the above-described conduct.  Furthermore, Walgreens has agreed to create a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to ensure regulatory compliance and prevent the diversion of controlled substances.  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 documents filed in the underlying administrative actions, the Registrants negligently allowed controlled substances listed in Schedules II – V of the Act, such as oxycodone and other prescription pain killers, to be diverted for abuse and illegal black market sales
- KRWG News

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Walgreens agrees to pay $80 Million to settle case of alleged diversion of pain pills to black markets.
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Walgreens no longer allowed to pay pharmacists according to how many pain pill prescriptions they fill.
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Walgreens agrees to $80 million fine. Imagine how much profit they made from the alleged "crime"?
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  1. […] pain medication derived from cobra venom is in development. Walgreens in South Florida will pay the largest settlement in DEA history due to alleged oxycodone and prescription pain killers diversion. A Florida cop found marijuana […]

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