June 30, 2020
Contact: SA Timothy Desmond
Phone Number: (617) 557-2100
West Hartford Pharmacy to pay $150K to settle Controlled Substance Act allegations
HARTFORD, Conn. – DEA New England Division Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle and John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that Suburban Pharmacy LTC. Inc. (“Suburban Pharmacy”), a pharmacy located in West Hartford, Connecticut, has entered into a civil settlement with the federal government in which it will pay a penalty of $150,000 to resolve allegations that it violated civil provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.
The allegations against Suburban Pharmacy include claims that it failed to keep complete and accurate records regarding the receipt and dispensing of controlled substances, and that it failed to maintain effective controls against the diversion of controlled substances.
Suburban Pharmacy dispenses prescription drugs, including controlled substances, to approximately 200 long-term care centers, assisted living facilities, group homes, and other in-patient facilities. In October 2018, the DEA commenced an investigation of Suburban Pharmacy following a reported loss of more than 6,000 dosage units of alprazolam 2mg, a Schedule IV controlled substance. An internal investigation indicated that employee theft likely contributed to the loss. The DEA then conducted an audit of Suburban Pharmacy’s inventory of controlled substances, which revealed a total discrepancy of more than 22,000 doses of controlled substances. The government alleges that this discrepancy is due in part to lax controls against diversion, and the failure to maintain accurate inventories of the controlled substances Suburban Pharmacy received, sold, dispensed, or otherwise disposed of.
Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to combat the illegal distribution and abuse of controlled substances, including prescription medications. Under the CSA, entities registered with the DEA who purchase, distribute, dispense, transfer or sell controlled substances must comply with strict inventory and documentation requirements. Regulations promulgated under the CSA require that each DEA registrant, including pharmacies, maintain complete and accurate records of each substance manufactured, received, sold, delivered, dispensed or otherwise disposed of by the registrant for two years. These requirements play a vital role in ensuring the appropriate handling, accounting and distribution of controlled substances.
“DEA registrants are responsible to handle controlled substances and ensure that complete and accurate records are being properly kept and accounted for in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Failure to do so increases the potential for diversion and jeopardizes the public health and safety. Today’s settlement demonstrates DEA’s pledge to ensure that DEA registrants maintain the records required under the CSA and are able to account for all the controlled substances they purchase.”
“It is no secret that there has been a tremendous amount of damage caused by prescription drug abuse in our state and across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Durham. “Pharmacies must keep accurate records and maintain strong controls when handling controlled substances. Those that fail to do so open the door to the potential for diversion of drugs by pharmacy employees, the illegal distribution and abuse of these drugs, and a federal investigation.”
This investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Kaczmarek.