Cincinnati-based Omnicare Inc., a unit of CVS Health, has agreed to pay $15.3 million in civil penalties to resolve allegations from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that it improperly doled out opioids and other controlled substances to nursing homes without valid prescriptions. The company also agreed to increase auditing and monitoring of the controlled substances it provides to long-term care facilities, as required by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Omnicare dispensed powerful opioids without valid prescriptions and failed to inform federal authorities of significant losses of opioids and other drugs,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in a statement. “With the opioid crisis still a very real concern, every entity that handles dangerous drugs will be held accountable to ensure powerful narcotics are properly dispensed and not diverted to the black market.”
Omnicare isn’t open to the general public, but delivers prescription drugs, including opioids and other controlled substances, daily to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The pharmacy also keeps a limited stockpile of controlled substances for patient emergencies. The DOJ alleged that these so-called “emergency kits” often included commonly abused opioids and should have been more tightly controlled and tracked, and only dispensed with a valid prescription.
DEA offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver teamed up with U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the District of Colorado, the District of Oregon, and the District of Utah to investigate the matter. Omnicare was ultimately found to have violated the federal Controlled Substances Act in regard to the emergency kits and its processing of prescriptions missing key components such as the prescriber’s signature.
CVS Health, whose other units include CVS Pharmacy, CVS Caremark, and Aetna, acquired Omnicare in 2015. A company representative told Law360 that the company settled the matter with the DOJ to avoid pricey litigation and that doing so was not an admission of guilt.
Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are representing local governments holding opioid companies accountable for overdose deaths and economic damages in their communities caused by the opioid crisis.