Walgreen Co. agreed last month to pay $80 million in fines to end a Drug Enforcement Administration probe into allegations that it allowed millions of doses of controlled substances, including the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone, to reach the black market.


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Walgreens reaches settlement with DEA

July 8th, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. agreed last month to pay $80 million in fines to end a Drug Enforcement Administration probe into allegations that it allowed millions of doses of controlled substances, including the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone, to reach the black market.

The settlement is the largest civil penalty that has ever been paid under the Controlled Substances Act.

“We have worked closely with DEA over the past several months to reach this agreement,” president of pharmacy, health and wellness Kermit Crawford said, vowing that Walgreens would remain vigilant in keeping prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands.

“As the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., we are fully committed to doing our part to prevent prescription drug abuse,” he stressed. “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.”

Crawford said Walgreens has already begun to implement measures to safeguard the controlled substances in its ­pharmacies. “We have identified specific compliance measures to enhance our ordering processes and inventory systems; to provide our team members with the tools, training and support they need to ensure the appropriate dispensing of controlled substances; and to improve collaboration across the industry,” he said.

Walgreens’ settlement with the DEA brings to a close an investigation that began last fall.
In September the DEA accused Walgreens of endangering public safety and barred the company from shipping oxycodone and other controlled drugs from its Jupiter, Fla., distribution center. The distribution center was the largest supplier of oxycodone to retail pharmacies in Florida, the DEA said.

In announcing the settlement, Wifredo Ferrer, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said Walgreens had committed “an unprecedented number” of record-keeping and dispensing violations. “The distribution centers are the first line of defense,” he said.

In addition to the $80 million in fines, the DEA suspended the controlled substance licenses for Walgreens’ Jupiter distribution center until September 2014 and the six Walgreens pharmacies in Florida that ordered an average of 73,000 oxycodone tablets a year until May 2014.

The settlement also closes similar investigations in Colorado, Michigan and New York, Ferrer said.

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