DEA Launches Investigation Over Missing Rx Pills at Calif. CVS Stores
The Sacramento office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is investigating the disappearance of about 37,000 hydrocodone tablets from four CVS locations in California, according to officials with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports.
Hydrocodone is a narcotic that is found in painkillers, such as Vicodin, and is widely misused, according to "KXJZ News" ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 3/11).
In 2013, more than three million prescription pills were lost or stolen from California pharmacies, according to the state Board of Pharmacy, including:
- One million pills lost in transit;
- 358,000 that were tied to employee pilferage;
- Nearly 500,000 taken in break-ins at night;
- 100,500 taken in armed robberies; and
- 5,500 stolen by consumers.
Details of Investigation
According to DEA warrant requests, the tablets were reported lost or stolen at CVS locations in:
- Modesto; and
DEA investigator Brian Glaudel said the agency believes the stores could have violated the federal Controlled Substances Act by improperly keeping records of prescription drug distributions (Dembosky, "The California Report," KQED, 3/12).
Lauren Horwood, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said CVS could be charged with more than 2,900 possible violations of the law and could be fined up to $29 million (Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, 3/10).
In a statement, CVS said, "CVS Caremark takes very seriously the challenge of combating prescription drug abuse and diversion and we recognize the important role our pharmacists and technicians play on the front lines of solving this problem."
The company said it is cooperating with the DEA's review and is working to enhance its:
- Control measures;
- Drug Storage; and
- Internal audit procedures ("The California Report," KQED, 3/12).