ORLANDO, Fla. — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has suspended two Orlando-area-based CVS pharmacies from selling controlled substances such as oxycodone, agency officials said Monday.
It is the first time stores in a national pharmacy chain are the targets of suspension orders used to combat Florida's prescription drug abuse problem, said Mark Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Miami field office.
The DEA also issued a suspension order against a Lakeland-based wholesale drug distributor. But its owner, Cardinal Health, late last week successfully persuaded a judge to halt the DEA's suspension efforts until a hearing is held next week in Washington.
The DEA claims that the two Sanford, Fla.-based pharmacies dispensed such controlled drugs as oxycodone far in excess of legitimate needs. The average pharmacy orders 69,000 oxycodone dosage units a year but the two pharmacies together were ordering 2 million dosage units, DEA officials said.
"These pharmacies knew or should have known that a large number of these prescriptions were not issued for legitimate medical purposes," Trouville said at a news conference in suburban Orlando.
The pharmacies will still be able to sell drugs that aren't controlled substances while the orders are enforced.
A CVS spokesman said the company is unwavering in its compliance with federal and state laws, and it was cooperating with the DEA.
Last fall, CVS informed a small number of Florida doctors that it would no longer fill prescriptions they write for certain narcotics. The distributions of oxycodone to the two Florida pharmacies during the last three months dropped by 80 percent when compared to the three prior months as a result of that action, said Michael DeAngelis, a CVS spokesman.
"We are disappointed that the DEA has taken an administrative action to prohibit two CVS pharmacy stores in Florida from dispensing," DeAngelis said.
The DEA said the Cardinal Health facility failed to have controls that would prevent controlled substances from being diverted for illegitimate uses. Cardinal Health CEO George Barrett said the company plans to vigorously challenge the DEA's action.
"We believe the DEA is wrong," Barrett said in a statement.