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Omnicare to settle for $15 million over opioid allegations

Omnicare will pay $ 15 million to settle allegations that it allowed controlled substances to be dispensed to patients without a valid prescription.

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company provides pharmacy services for long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It was acquired by CVS Health in 2015.

The settlement was reached on May 6 after an investigation by Drug Enforcement Administration field officials and U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and Central and Southern California.

The allegations focus on Omnicare’s prescription deliveries to long-term care facilities, which includes “emergency kits”—limited stockpiles of controlled substances that can only be dispensed with a valid prescription on an emergency basis.  Omnicare allegedly failed to control the emergency kits by allowing long-term care facilities to remove opioids and other controlled substances days before doctors provided a valid prescription.

The company also reportedly violated the federal Controlled Substances Act by processing written prescriptions that lacked certain required information, such as the prescriber’s signature or DEA number.

As part of the settlement, Omnicare will pay $ 15.3 million and will enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration that would require Omnicare to increase its monitoring of emergency kits placed at long-term care facilities.

“Omnicare failed in its responsibility to ensure proper controls of medications used to treat some of the most vulnerable among us,” DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a news release.  “DEA is committed to keeping our communities safe by holding companies like Omnicare accountable for such failures, while ensuring continuity of care and necessary access to emergency prescription drug supplies.”

This isn’t the first time Omnicare’s dispensing practices have come under fire. Another, separate lawsuit filed in December by the Department of Justice accused Omnicare of dispensing non-controlled prescriptions that were expired, out of refills or otherwise invalid.

Photo credit: Mykola Velychko, Getty Images

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