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Walgreens to Pay $80 Million for Lax Distribution of Narcotic Prescription Drugs

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Walgreens to Pay $80 Million for Narcotic Drug Violations

The nation's biggest pharmacy operator, Walgreens, is set to pay $80 million for its lax control over sales of narcotic painkillers. The company is required to pay the DEA to resolve federal charges that it failed to properly control sales of painkillers, including Oxycontin. The DEA says that the settlement is the largest ever paid by a pharmacy chain, but that many of the painkillers that Walgreens sold ended up on the black market.

Narcotic Drug Distribution Causes Problems for Pharmacies, Patients

Under the agreement, Walgreens agreed to establish better internal controls of narcotic drugs. Walgreens also acknowledged that the distribution pratices in one of its Florida facilities did not meet standards. Because some drugstores have sought to limit narcotic drug availability to reduce their liability, customers in search of narcotic painkillers have argued that it is difficult to find the drugs. In contrast, other pharmacies have merely turned a blind eye to large orders of narcotic painkillers or identify suspicious customers.

Narcotic Drugs Major Problem in Florida

Narcotic drugs have been a major problem in Florida, with a booming black market that until recently operated with relative ease. Many so-called "pain clinics" shot up around the state, where patients could receive prescriptions for potent narcotic drugs with a cursory physical exam. Six of Walgreens' Florida pharmacies ordered more than a million pills a year, compared to the average 73,000 pills ordered by most pharmacies per year.