DEA Charges Health Care Company with Violating License to Sell Controlled Drugs

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has charged a major health care company and two Florida CVS pharmacies with violating their licenses to sell controlled drugs. The DEA said Cardinal Health had an unusually high number of shipments of controlled painkillers to four pharmacies.

The agency suspended Cardinal Health’s controlled substance license at its distribution center in Lakeland, Florida. The center serves 2,500 pharmacies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, according to USA Today.

After the DEA suspended the company’s license, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against the DEA’s suspension order. The judge’s order allows Cardinal Health to resume shipments of controlled medicines from its Lakeland facility, pending a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for February 13.

The DEA said Cardinal Health knew, or should have known, that the four pharmacies had bought far more drugs than it needed to fill legitimate prescriptions. According to a Cardinal Health press release, over the past four years, it has stopped shipping controlled medicines to more than 350 pharmacies it determined posed an unreasonable risk of diversion and reported them to DEA. In Florida alone, Cardinal Health has stopped shipping to more than 160 pharmacies, the press release notes.

The article states this is the third time in five years that the DEA has suspended Cardinal’s controlled substances license.

The DEA also raided two CVS pharmacies in Florida, and suspended their licenses to dispense controlled substances, the article notes. A CVS spokesperson said the company had taken steps, with the DEA’s knowledge, to stop filling prescriptions from physicians thought to be prescribing controlled narcotics improperly.

In late 2011, CVS sent letters to some physicians in Florida informing them the pharmacy chain will not fill prescriptions they write for oxycodone and other Schedule II narcotic drugs.