Prisma Health Midlands to Pay $1 Million to Resolve Alleged Controlled Substance Act Violations
Largest settlement involving allegations of CSA violations in the state of South Carolina
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Prisma Health Midlands (“Prisma”) has agreed to pay a record $1 million to resolve allegations that it committed recordkeeping and dispensing violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). These requirements are designed to prevent the diversion of controlled substances.
This civil settlement includes a memorandum of agreement and is the culmination of a joint Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation that began in November of 2018 when two Prisma patients were arrested for distributing drugs, some of which, the United States alleges, they were able to receive through Prisma’s pharmacy. This marks the largest settlement involving allegations of CSA violations in the state of South Carolina.
“The mission of DEA’s Division of Diversion Control is to prevent, detect and investigate the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “In this case, DEA Diversion Investigators did an outstanding job of uncovering recordkeeping discrepancies for the controlled substances Prisma purchased, maintained and dispensed. The DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to making sure healthcare providers are abiding by these important mandates.”
“Pharmacists must comply with their responsibilities to issue controlled substances only for legitimate medical purposes and in the usual course of their professional practice,” said U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis. “When pharmacists ignore or disregard red flags, their actions allow controlled substance prescriptions to be diverted for illegitimate and dangerous purposes.”
The United States alleges that Prisma failed to notify the DEA within one business day regarding thefts or significant losses of controlled substances over a three-year time period. As a DEA registrant, Prisma has certain recordkeeping and reporting obligations and one of these is to promptly notify the DEA whenever a theft or significant loss occurs.
The United States further alleges that Prisma violated the CSA by filling prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose for two patients who have now pleaded guilty to federal drug distribution charges.
The conduct outlined in the settlement agreement is merely alleged; the agreement does not constitute an admission of liability by Prisma.
A main objective of the CSA is controlling illegitimate traffic of controlled substances. To prevent the diversion of controlled substances, the CSA regulates persons, companies and other entities that manufacture, distribute, and dispense controlled substances. With more than 100,000 Americans dying last year from drug overdose, the Justice Department and the DEA are committed to using every resource available to prevent overdose deaths and hold accountable those responsible for the opioid crisis. The government’s rigorous investigation and resolution of this matter illustrates the government’s ongoing dedication to stem the prescription opioid crisis by ensuring that opioids are not diverted and abused.
This matter was investigated by the DEA Group Supervisor Adam Roberson, DEA Investigator Kelli Capehart, and DEA Investigator Sai Rivera along with Civil Division Chief James Leventis and Assistant U.S. Attorney Johanna Valenzuela of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.
The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com, www.CampusDrugPrevention.gov, and www.dea.gov . Also follow DEA Atlanta via Twitter at @DEAATLANTADiv