Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided two CVS pharmacies in Florida as part of an effort to curb the abuse of prescription painkillers and other potentially addictive substances.
The action on Saturday came one day after the agency suspended the license of drug distributor Cardinal Health Inc. to ship such products from its facility in Lakeland, Florida. Cardinal immediately obtained a restraining order allowing it to continue shipments pending a hearing on Feb. 13.
The DEA declined to discuss details of the raids, but it plans to hold a news conference at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) on Monday “to announce the latest efforts by the Drug Enforcement Administration in its efforts to thwart the diversion of licit pharmaceutical controlled substances.”
Controlled substances are those, like stimulants, painkillers and tranquilizers, that can be addictive. Every entity that handles a controlled substance, from the manufacturer to the distributor to the pharmacy to the physician, must register with the agency.
The DEA’s action comes as Florida, like other states, battles an ever-rising tide of prescription drug abuse.
Cardinal said on Friday that the DEA had suspended its license based on suspiciously high volume at four pharmacies. The company told a judge that it had already stopped shipping to two of the pharmacies several months ago, and stopped shipping to the CVS stores, in Sanford, after its license was temporarily suspended on Friday morning.
CVS Caremark Corp. said in an emailed statement that it was “disappointed that the DEA has taken an administrative action to prohibit two CVS/pharmacy stores in Florida from dispensing controlled substances.
“CVS/pharmacy is unwavering in its compliance with and support of the measures taken by federal and state law enforcement officials to prevent drug abuse and keep controlled substances out of the wrong hands.”
CVS said that last fall, with the knowledge of the DEA, it had informed a small number of Florida physicians that it would no longer fill the prescriptions they write for controlled narcotics.
As a result, distributions of oxycodone to the two Florida stores have decreased by about 80 percent in the last three months from the prior three months, CVS said.
“We are cooperating with the DEA in regard to the administrative action,” the company said. “Meanwhile, we remain committed to ensuring that all our customers, including customers of the two pharmacies, get the medications they need, including controlled substances.”
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