Rite Aid Corporation and nine of its subsidiaries in eight states have agreed to pay $5 million in civil penalties to settle allegations of violations of the Controlled Substances Act, the Department of Justice announced today.
According to the DEA, an investigation of 53 stores starting in 2004 revealed that pharmacists knowingly filled prescriptions for controlled substances based on illegitimate prescriptions and failed to notify authorities when drugs were stolen from te stores.
The DEA’s full allegations include:
- At pharmacies in Kentucky and New York, Rite Aid knowingly filled prescriptions for controlled substances that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose pursuant to a valid physician-patient relationship
- At five pharmacies in Maryland, four pharmacies in New York and thirteen pharmacies in California, Rite Aid failed to notify the DEA in a timely manner of significant thefts and losses of controlled substances, thus permitting the diversion of controlled substances to continue and undermining DEA’s ability to investigate such thefts and/or losses
- At pharmacies in California, Pennsylvania and Maryland, Rite Aid either failed to maintain or failed to furnish to the DEA upon request records that are required to be kept under the CSA for a period of two years
- At all 53 pharmacies in all eight states, Rite Aid failed to properly execute DEA forms used to ensure that the amount of Schedule II drugs ordered by Rite Aid were actually received.
In addition to the $5 million penalty, Rite Aid has agreed to form a legal compliance plan and a pseudoephedrine and ephedrine tracking system in each of its 4,915 stores that is designed to prevent the abuse of the over-the-counter drugs, which are used to make methamphetamine.
“This settlement demonstrates the important responsibilities all pharmacies have to prevent dangerous drugs from being diverted from their intended use,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “The civil penalties paid today are just one example of DEA’s determination to combat the troubling prescription drug abuse problem in this country by pursuing pharmacies that fail to comply with the law. Our nation’s pharmacies must play a major role in the fight against drug abuse, so that together we can protect public health and keep our communities safe.”
As part of the civil agreement, Rite Aid admits no legal wrongdoing.