Walgreens to pay Historical $80 Million Civil Penalty for Violations of the Controlled Substances Act

The nation’s largest drug store chain will be paying $80 million in civil penalties to settle charges related to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), according to the U.S.Department of Justice (DOJ). Walgreens Corporation employees allegedly committed an “unprecedented” amount of record-keeping and dispensing violations under the CSA at a Florida distribution center and six retail pharmacies in the state of Florida.

The DOJ noted that the settlement was the largest in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) history. According to filings, Walgreens employees negligently allowed controlled substances such as oxycodone to be diverted for abuse and black market sales. According to the DOJ and DEA, the distribution center in question failed to sufficiently report suspicious orders which resulted in tens of thousands of violations of the CSA and allowed pharmacies to order and receive three times the Florida average for drugs such as oxycodone. Pharmacies also filled prescriptions that they knew or should have known were not for legitimate medical use, and their practices made it impossible for the DEA to determine the accuracy of their records.

The settlement also revokes the distribution center’s and pharmacy’s ability to distribute or dispense controlled substances listed in Schedules II-V for two years. Walgreens will also create a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to ensure regulatory compliance. Enhanced training and compliance programs are also part of the agreement, and Walgreens has agreed to no longer monetarily or otherwise compensate pharmacists for the number of prescriptions they fill.