Walgreens Pay $80 Million Over Improper Procedures regarding Dispensing Controlled Substances: Avoid Similar Problems at Your Pharmacy

In a record settlement, Walgreens, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, agreed to pay $80 million to the Federal Government in connection with allegations that it committed an “unprecedented” number of violations of the record-keeping and dispensing requirements of the Controlled Substances Act. During the underlying investigation and prosecution, the DEA contended that Walgreens had negligently allowed controlled substances prescription painkillers (including oxycodone) to be improperly distributed to abusers and to individuals illegally selling the pills on the black market.  As part of the settlement, Walgreens admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant, and six stores as well as a Florida distribution facility were slapped with a two-year ban on dispensing and/or distributing certain controlled substances. Walgreens was also required to enhance training and compliance programs, and set up an internal Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity.

This investigation and settlement marks a stepped up and focused effort by the DEA and other Federal agencies over pharmacies’ handling of controlled substances, including prescription painkillers. It also highlights the need for pharmacies to bring their own practices in line, to avoid a similar fate as Walgreens. Therefore, pharmacies should contact experienced healthcare attorneys who can draft robust Standard Operating Procedures to ensure compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations. Contact Frier Levitt to speak to one of our attorneys.