Costco to pay $11.75 mln over lax U.S. pharmacy controls

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By Nate Raymond

<span class="articleLocation”>Costco Wholesale Corp will pay $11.75
million to resolve claims that some of its pharmacies filled
improper or incomplete prescriptions for controlled substances
in violation of federal regulations, the U.S. Justice Department
said on Thursday.

The deal, one of several corporate settlements being
unveiled during the last days of President Barack Obama’s
administration, came as U.S. authorities grapple with an opioid
drug epidemic.

“This settlement demonstrates the accountability and
responsibility that go along with handling controlled
prescription drugs,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Assistant
Administrator Louis Milione said in a statement.

A Costco spokesman declined to comment.

Under the settlement, Costco acknowledged that from 2012 to
2015 some of its pharmacies dispensed drugs without complying
with the Controlled Substances Act and related regulations, the
Justice Department said.

Those violations included filling prescriptions that lacked
valid DEA numbers; filling prescriptions outside the scope of a
doctor’s DEA registration; and failing to maintain accurate
dispensing records, the Justice Department said.

“These are not just administrative or paperwork violations –
Costco’s failure to have proper controls in place in its
pharmacies played a role in prescription drugs reaching the
black market,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker in Los Angeles.

The Justice Department said Costco had bought a new
pharmacy management system and set up a three-tier audit program
at its pharmacies to address the issues.

Under the settlement, DEA officials will be allowed to
conduct unannounced and unrestricted inspections of all
DEA-registered Costco pharmacies for the next three years, the
Justice Department said.



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