SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare has settled a civil case alleging that lax oversight allowed a former North Ogden medical assistant to illegally prescribe more than 40,000 Oxycodone pills to herself and two family members.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah announced the settlement late Friday in a statement, saying it's believed to be the largest of its kind in the Beehive State. Under the terms, Utah's largest employer will pay the federal government $1 million without admitting liability and has created a system to head off and handle similar situations
An Intermountain spokesman in a statement said the "sophisticated drug diversion scheme" was isolated to its North Ogden clinic.
"When the scheme was brought to light, we fully cooperated with authorities, and the employee was terminated and criminally prosecuted," said Daron Cowley, senior communications director for Intermountain Healthcare.
The assistant used a physician’s Drug Enforcement Administration registration number to write herself and two family members painkiller prescriptions for Oxycodone and Hydrocodone; the anti-anxiety medicine Diazepam; and Phentermine, which suppresses appetite, the government argued.2 comments on this story
Government attorneys said the employee, whose name was not released, wrote 244 prescriptions for roughly 46,600, 30-milligram Oxycodone tablets; plus 151 scripts for about 11,400 controlled-substance pills. An Intermountain pharmacy filled the scripts and shared responsibility, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
U.S. Attorney John Huber said such incidents fuel addiction, illegal drug sales and the opioid epidemic and that health care networks are responsible for preventing them.
The DEA investigated the case.
Brian Besser, Utah's district DEA agent, said his agency is committed to investigating crimes that may feed the epidemic.