Jay Pee is an optimist. This breaks my heart a little. I had such confidence that WAG does it right. Oh Well.
Walgreen to Pay $80 Million Fine in D.E.A. Inquiry
By BARRY MEIER
Published: June 11, 2013 The New York Times
The Walgreen Company, the nation’s biggest pharmacy operator, agreed on Tuesday to pay $80 million to resolve federal charges that it failed to properly control the sales of narcotic painkillers at some of its outlets.
Officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration described the fine as the biggest ever paid by a pharmacy chain. As part of the settlement, the license of a Florida facility used by Walgreen to distribute controlled drugs was revoked for two years.
D.E.A. officials said that many of the drugs dispensed at the facility made their way to the black market, including oxycodone, a strong narcotic that is also the active ingredient in OxyContin.
Under the agreement, Walgreen committed to establish better internal controls. It acknowledged that practices at a distribution facility and some of its pharmacies in Florida did not meet standards.
Over the last year, federal officials have acted against several major wholesalers of prescription painkillers, like Cardinal Health, as well as drugstores. Such drugs are involved in some 16,000 overdose deaths annually.
Federal officials have said that distributors of painkillers often turn a blind eye to suspiciously large orders for medications by pharmacies, and that drugstores fail to properly identify customers who intend to divert drugs to the streets.
Some distributors have sought to limit their liability by more closely monitoring distribution pipelines and cutting off customers. But patients say the crackdown has made it difficult for them to get needed medication, and some druggists complain that big distributors like Cardinal have clamped down on the amount of painkillers they can buy.
The black market has been rampant in Florida, where until recently hundreds of so-called pain clinics operated, including many where patients received prescriptions for opioids after cursory examinations. Since 2009, federal officials have brought charges against 59 doctors in connection with the illegal prescribing of painkillers.
In their action against Walgreen, federal officials said the chain had failed to properly account for the sales of painkillers or report suspicious sales. The Walgreen distribution facility in Florida once served as the largest supplier of prescription painkillers to pharmacies in that state, they said.
“National pharmaceutical chains are not exempt from following the law,” Mark R. Trouville, a D.E.A. special agent in charge, said in a prepared statement.
In a statement released Tuesday, Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Ill., said, “As the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., we are fully committed to do our part to reduce prescription drug abuse.”
The company said that it expected that the financial impact of the settlement and associated costs would lower results in the third quarter by about 4 to 6 cents a share. In fiscal 2012, Walgreen had sales of $72 billion.
Another major distributor, AmerisourceBergen, disclosed last June that it faced a federal criminal inquiry into its oversight of painkiller sales. West Virginia officials filed a lawsuit against 14 drug distributors, including Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen. The companies have denied wrongdoing.