May 13, 2015
Contact: Public Information Officer
Phone Number: (954) 660-4500
United States Reaches $22 Million Settlement Agreement With CVS For Unlawful Distribution Of Controlled Substances
ORLANDO, Fla. - A.D. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement (DEA), Miami Field Division, and A. Lee Bentley, III, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announces today that CVS Health has agreed to pay $22 million to resolve allegations that two of its retail stores located in Sanford, Florida distributed controlled substances based on prescriptions that had not been issued for legitimate medical purposes by a health care provider acting in the usual course of professional practice. CVS acknowledged that its retail pharmacies had a responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that were issued based on legitimate medical need. CVS further acknowledged that certain of its retail stores dispensed certain controlled substances in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations under the Controlled Substances (CSA) and the related regulations.
The CSA authorizes the United States to seek civil penalties for a pharmacy’s failure to fulfill its corresponding responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that have been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a health care provider acting in the usual course of professional practice. Knowingly filling an illegitimate prescription subjects a pharmacy to civil penalties under the CSA.
This settlement caps off an investigation that began as part of DEA’s crackdown on pill mills in Florida. Prescription drug addicts were travelling to Florida, known as the nation’s epicenter for the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, for access to physicians who were prescribing pain medication without regard to medical need and to pharmacies that were filling the prescriptions despite red flags that they were illegitimate. The investigation led to DEA’s execution of administrative inspection warrants at two CVS stores in Sanford. As a result, the DEA registrations of both stores were revoked in June 2012.
This settlement illustrates the DEA and United States Attorney’s (USAO) efforts to address the wrongdoing that occurred at the height of Florida’s pill mill crisis.
This matter was investigated by the DEA Orlando District Office, Diversion Group. It was handled by the USAO for the Middle District of Florida.