Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) agreed on Tuesday (June 11) to pay the government's Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) an $80 million fine, the largest in the agency's history, for "an unprecedented number of" record-keeping and dispensing violations, a DEA statement said. Walgreens also saw its license revoked (partially) for a key distribution center and six Florida stores. Those stores will still be able to fill some prescriptions, but nothing covered in Schedules II-V until May 26, 2014.
Walgreens allow prescription drugs "such as oxycodone and other prescription pain killers to be diverted for abuse and illegal black market sales" and the DEA added that "Walgreens' alleged failure to sufficiently report suspicious orders was a systematic practice that resulted in at least tens of thousands of violations and allowed Walgreens' retail pharmacies to order and receive at least three times the Florida average for drugs such as oxycodone."
The $72 billion chain said that it has also agreed to intensify employee training. "As part of the agreement with DEA and our continuing desire to work with DEA to combat prescription drug abuse, we have identified specific compliance measures—many of which Walgreens has already taken—to enhance our ordering processes and inventory systems, to provide our team members with the tools, training and support they need to ensure the appropriate dispensing of controlled substances and to improve collaboration across the industry," Walgreens' statement said.
The nation's largest retailer said that the $80 million had already been accounted for, as the chain had reserved those funds in earlier financial quarters. As for the partial license revocation for its distribution facility, the chain said that "Walgreens has already taken steps to ensure that there is no disruption to the supply of medications to our pharmacies."
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