CVS Must Pay $450K To Settle Claims That Pharmacies Filled Bogus Prescriptions

CVS Health agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a years-long investigation by Rhode Island and the Drug Enforcement Administration that several of its locations filled forged and invalid painkiller prescriptions in violation of federal laws.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island announced today that CVS agreed to settle allegations that several stores violated the federal Controlled Substances Act.

In settling the investigation – which began after authorities found individuals in Rhode Island prescribing various controlled substances without the authority to do so – CVS did not admit any wrongdoing.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, substances such as painkillers and opioids can only be prescribed for legitimate medical purposes by a physician.

According to the settlement [PDF], starting in March 2010, several CVS pharmacies in Rhode Island didn’t follow those rules, filling a number of forged prescriptions.

In some cases, the complaint states that orders were filled with invalid DEA numbers or that pharmacists actually knew or had reason to know that the prescriptions were invalid or unauthorized.

Additionally, investigators alleged that some CVS pharmacists filled multiple prescriptions written by psychiatric nurse practitioners for the opioid painkiller hydrocodone, despite the fact that these practitioners were not legally permitted to prescribe the drugs.

“It should come as no surprise to any Rhode Island citizen – individual or corporate –that diversion and misuse of prescription painkillers are a public health crisis in the State of Rhode Island,” U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha said in a statement.

Monday’s settlement is the second in four months that CVS has faced regarding the filling of questionable painkiller prescriptions.

Back in May, the company agreed to pay $22 million to resolve a two-year investigation into two area pharmacies – which had their DEA registrations revoked in 2012 – that filled painkiller prescriptions far in excess of the average pharmacy.

Drug Diversion Claims Against CVS Health Corp. Resolved With $450,000 Civil Settlement [U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Rhode Island]