Walgreens will pay $80 million to settle claims regarding painkiller prescriptions

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by Jim Orr

Walgreens has agreed to pay $80 million to settle allegations that the pharmacy negligently allowed painkillers to make their way onto the black market. The nation’s largest drugstore chain has agreed to the settlement in order to resolve accusations that it was negligent in allowing controlled substances such as oxycodone and other prescription pain killers to be diverted for abuse and black-market sales. The agreement settles administrative actions and civil penalties regarding the company’s Jupiter, Florida distribution center and six Walgreens retail pharmacies, along with similar open civil investigations in Colorado, Michigan and New York.

Oxycodone, a powerful addictive narcotic, is one of the most abused prescription medications in the United States. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths and deaths from illegal street drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamines.

The DEA charged that the Walgreens committed tens of thousands of record-keeping and dispensing violations. The DEA alleged that Walgreens’ Jupiter distribution center failed to comply with regulations that required it to report to the DEA suspicious prescription drug orders it received from Walgreens‘ retail pharmacies. It was alleged that six retail pharmacies in Florida that received the suspicious drug shipments from the Jupiter distribution center filled customer prescriptions that they knew or should have known were not for legitimate medical use.

In addition to the $80 million civil penalties, the settlement revokes the company’s ability to distribute or dispense controlled substances for two years, ending in 2014. As part of the settlement, Walgreens admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant. Furthermore, Walgreens has agreed to create a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to ensure regulatory compliance and prevent the diversion of controlled substances. Walgreens also agreed to enhance its training and compliance programs, and to no longer monetarily or otherwise compensate its pharmacists based on the volume of prescriptions filled.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting the pain pill industry

Even when used as prescribed, opioid painkillers can cause serious and potentially deadly complications. Because painkillers can lower a patient’s breathing rate, opioid users may be at risk of developing repository depression. Some of these patients may fall into respiratory arrest, which can be fatal if not treated quickly

More people die from prescription drug overdoses each year than from heroin and cocaine combined. A significant part of the problem—that is not being adequately addressed—is the alarming number of deaths due to overdose on medications that were prescribed for the deceased by their doctors.

Patients who die from overdoses of drugs which have been prescribed for them most often overdose on prescription opioid painkillers. Some of the most commonly used prescription painkillers include:

  • Vicodin (sold generically under the name hydrocodone)
  • OxyContin (sold generically as oxycodone)
  • Dilaudid (sold generically under the name Hydromorphone)
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl pain patch (sold generically under the brand names Sandoz, Watson and Mylan)

The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have spent years holding drug companies and negligent prescribing doctors responsible for the injuries and deaths caused by their reckless conduct. When it comes to fighting the makers of prescription painkillers and pursuing the negligent doctors that hand them out, very few lawyers can claim anything close to the considerable experience or success of Heygood, Orr & Pearson.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is among the nation’s leading law firms in handling cases involving potent opioids, and our law firm has the experience to prosecute medical malpractice lawsuits involving a wide array of serious opioid painkillers. To receive a free legal consultation and find out if you are eligible to file a case, please call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on this page.