CVS Health Settles for $15.3 Million Over Improperly Dispensing Opioids and Other Controlled Substances

According to a recent Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announcement, CVS Health’s subsidiary, Omnicare, which provides pharmacy services to long-term care facilities, will pay $15.3 million to the United States to resolve allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act.

Specifically, allegations include that Omnicare processed written prescriptions which included obvious facial deficits, such as not including the prescriber name and DEA number, and that it mishandled “emergency kits.” These “emergency kits” contain medications (including opioids and other commonly abused controlled substances) that are meant to be dispensed to patients on an emergency basis. Allegations included that, despite the tight regulations surrounding dispensing controlled substances, Omnicare improperly permitted long-term care facilities to remove opioids and other controlled substances from the kits days before doctors issued valid prescriptions for the removed medications. Additionally, the investigation found that Omnicare failed to document emergency prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances and to report significant losses of opioids to the federal authorities.

U.S. Attorney Scott made it clear that, “…the United States Attorney’s Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to enforce the Controlled Substances Act against pharmacies of any size or type [whether open to the public, or closed-door] that violate the Act and will seek substantial civil penalties when warranted.” Moreover, the Controlled Substances Act endeavors to hold every entity in the distribution chain, including pharmacies that handle narcotics, responsible to ensure that narcotics are properly dispensed.

How Frier Levitt Can Help

Frier Levitt routinely advises pharmacy providers across the country on their legal obligations and potential exposure to liability in light of federal and state laws and regulations relating to pain management and the dispensing of opioids and other addictive and/or dangerous drugs. We also have experience with the development and implementation of comprehensive opioid compliance plans. An effective compliance plan coupled with policies and procedures designed to mitigate such risk can reduce expenses related to defending such actions or paying the resulting fines. For more information about developing an opioid compliance plan, contact Frier Levitt today.

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