CVS fined for filling fake Percocet prescriptions

CVS is agreeing to pay $535,000 to settle allegations the pharmacy chain filled prescriptions for Percocet, a powerful painkiller, that its pharmacists should have recognized were forgeries.

The fine was announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.

CVS locations in Rhode Island filled 39 prescriptions for Percocet, a Schedule II narcotic, despite the fact that its pharmacists “had reason to know” they were fraudulent, according to officials. CVS Health is headquartered in Woonsocket, R.I.

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The Justice Department reached the settlement following an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office of Diversion Control.

“DEA registrants like CVS have a corresponding responsibility to dispense controlled substances in accordance with the Controlled Substance Act,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Boyle said in a statement.

“Pharmacies put patients at risk when they dispense Schedule II narcotics, which have the highest potential for abuse, without a valid and legal prescription," Boyle added. "Today’s settlement demonstrates DEA’s commitment to work with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure that these rules and regulations are followed.”

CVS admitted no wrongdoing in connection with the settlement but acknowledged its pharmacists are responsible for assessing prescriptions under the Controlled Substances Act, according to the Justice Department.

“This settlement demonstrates that the Department of Justice remains committed to using all the legal tools at its disposal to ensure that everyone in the chain of controlled substance distribution — from physicians to pharmacists — abides by the strict requirements of the law,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron Weisman said in a statement.

"There was no admission of liability or wrongdoing, and we agreed to this settlement to avoid the delay, uncertainty and expense of litigation," Michael DeAngelis, CVS Health's senior director of corporate communications, told The Hill. "We are committed to complying with all federal and state laws governing the dispensing of prescriptions"

--This report was updated at 2:03 p.m.