Los Angeles– On 13th May 2020, United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna announced that Omnicare, Inc., a branch of CVS health and render of chemist services to long-term care institutions, accepted to remit a civil penalty of 15.3 million USD to the United States to resolve claims that it breached federal law by, among other things, permitting narcotics and other controlled drugs to be distributed without a legitimate prescription.
The Cincinnati-based Omnicare ran as closed-door chemists- meaning they were closed to the public- that distributed controlled drugs to LTCFs (long-term care institutions) and nursing homes. Omnicare made daily supplies of controlled drugs to inhabitants of LTCFs, and it also pre-positioned limited refills of controlled drugs at LFCFs in “emergency kits,” which were to be distributed to patients on an emergency basis. The emergency kits, which frequently comprised of narcotics and other controlled drugs that were normally misused and redirected, remained part of Omnicare’s stock and were securely trailed and managed. The controlled drugs could be distributed only following a legitimate prescription.
The United States claimed that Omnicare breached the federal Controlled Substances Act in its control of emergency prescriptions, its management of emergency kits, and its preparation of written prescriptions that had inadequate elements such as DEA number or prescriber’s sign. The federal investigation revealed that Omnicare did not manage emergency kits by improperly allowing LTFCs to take out opioids and other controlled substances from emergency kits days before physicians offered a legitimate prescription. The investigation also found that Omnicare had continuous failures in its testimonials and records of oral emergency prescriptions of Schedule II controlled drugs.
As part of the resolution settlement announced, Omnicare accepted to remit the civil penalty of 15.3 million USD and signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration that would necessitate Omnicare to maximize its auditing and observation of emergency kits stationed at LTCFs.
United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said that Omnicare distributed potent opioids without legitimate prescription and failed to tell federal authorities of significant losses of narcotics and other medications. She added that with the opioid emergency still a genuine worry, every institution that handled hazardous medication would be held liable to ensure potent opioids were properly distributed and not rerouted back to the illegal market.
The Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon said that Omnicare failed in its duty to ensure proper handling of drugs utilized to cure some of the most vulnerable in society. He added that the DEA was dedicated to keeping the societies safe by holding enterprises such as Omnicare liable for such disasters while ensuring the progression of care and necessary accessibility to emergency prescription medication supplies.
The investigation for the case was conducted by the DEA’s Divisions of Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, in partnership with 5 United States Attorney’s Offices: The Eastern District of California; the District of Colorado; Central District of California; the District of Utah; and the District of Oregon. The resolution settlement, which was completed on 6th May, settled Omnicare’s civil liability for the purported breach in those 5 districts.
The allegations resolved in the civil settlement were claims. In entering the resolution settlement, Omnicare did not confess to any guilt.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California was represented in the case by Assistant United States Attorney of the Civil Division’s Civil Fraud Section Charles E. Canter.
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