LOS ANGELES – Rite Aid Corporation has paid $834,200 in civil penalties to the United States to settle claims stemming from alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
Rite Aid paid the civil settlement yesterday as part of an agreement reached last week to resolve allegations that certain Rite Aid pharmacies in Los Angeles dispensed and/or recorded controlled substances using a medical practitioner's incorrect or invalid DEA registration number. The government alleged that the incorrect or invalid registration numbers were used at least 1,298 times as a result of Rite Aid's failure to adequately maintain its internal database.
The settlement also resolves allegations that Rite Aid pharmacies dispensed, on at least 63 occasions, prescriptions for controlled substances written by a practitioner whose DEA registration number had been revoked by the DEA for cause.
In 1970, the United States Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which created “a closed system” of distribution for controlled substances. The CSA established a regulatory framework to control every facet of the handling of the substances, from their manufacture to their consumption.
The CSA became law against the against the backdrop of increasing diversion and abuse of legitimate controlled substances, but the law was also designed to ensure an adequate supply of those substances needed to meet the medical and scientific needs of the United States.
“Accurate record keeping at retail pharmacies helps ensure that authorities can keep track of how many controlled substances a pharmacy should have and does have on hand,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These federal regulations were put into place to prevent the abuse of powerful drugs that are dispensed by pharmacies and should only be used under the careful watch of a medical professional.”
In entering into and paying the settlement, Rite Aid did not admit liability. Prior to entering into the agreement, Rite Aid implemented a DEA registration validation program designed to verify DEA registration numbers for medical professionals who prescribe controlled substances.
“This settlement demonstrates DEA's commitment to monitoring and holding accountable all potential sources of diversion for controlled substances and maintaining the safety of our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Steve Comer
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Diversion Control, Los Angeles Field Division.
The settlement was negotiated by Assistant United States Attorney Donald W. Yoo of the Civil Fraud Section.
USAO – California, Central Updated March 9, 2017
Central District of California DOJ / 17-050 / March 8, 2017