Warehouse shopping chain Costco has agreed to pay $11.75 million over charges it improperly filled prescriptions and failed to sufficiently manage how it dispensed controlled substances. The agreement, announced by the Justice Department, comes after federal officials said Costco pharmacies in Washington, California and Michigan filled prescriptions that were incomplete, lacked valid Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) numbers or were for substances beyond various doctors’ scope of practice. The settlement also resolves allegations Costco failed to keep and maintain accurate records for controlled substances at its pharmacies and dispensing centers. The settlement covers the period of time between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2015. U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes had this to say when announcing the settlement:
A company such as Costco that distributes a significant volume of controlled substances has a responsibility to ensure it complies with regulations that help prevent opioids and other dangerous drugs from being misused or otherwise added to the illegal marketplace. I commend the DEA investigators for uncovering the violations at issue in this case, and working with Costco to ensure that systems are put in place to prevent controlled substances from ending up in the wrong hands.”
Costco recently installed a new $127 million pharmacy management system and other internal audits to identify possible issues with controlled substance prescriptions. It also agreed to allow the DEA to conduct unannounced and unrestricted inspections of all Costco pharmacies over the next three years. Costco operates 715 stores in the U.S., including three in Alabama.