The State of Florida earned reputation for being an easy place to acquire large quantities of highly addictive prescription opioids. Up until the last few years, pain management facilities in Florida, otherwise known as “pill mills,” were places that people could be seen by doctors and leave with multiple prescriptions for opioids, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Vicodin ® (hydrocodone). It was often the case that abusers would attend multiple clinics in a week and amass loads of pills and then turn around and sell them on the streets for inflated prices.
After a number of years of these types of illicit activities, the state began to crack down; pill mills were closed up, a number of doctors lost their licenses, and some pharmacies had their licenses revoked for dispensing excessive amounts of oxycodone. In 2012, two CVS pharmacies were believed to be selling oxycodone pills that were not prescribed for legitimate medical purposes, Reuters reports. CVS Health Corp has agreed to pay $22 million to resolve the federal investigation.
The DEA had alleged that the two pharmacies were “filling prescriptions far in excess of the legitimate needs of its customers.”
According to a DEA news release, “CVS acknowledged that its retail pharmacies had a responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that were issued based on legitimate medical need. CVS further acknowledged that certain of its retail stores dispensed certain controlled substances in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations under the Controlled Substances Act and the related regulations.”
Just to give you some perspective, in 2011, the average pharmacy in America ordered approximately 69,000 oxycodone dosage units, according to the DEA. The two CVS pharmacies in question, located less than 6 miles from each other, ordered more than three million units together – during the same time period.