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The Year of the Pharmacy continues as CVS again makes negative headlines involving opioids.  This time, a pharmacist in Georgia is accused of stealing more than 3,000 pills from them including oxycodone, morphine, Dilaudid, and Adderall.[1]   Inflaming matters, the pharmacist allegedly stole the narcotics by ingesting them in the store – on camera.    The theft was discovered only when a new pharmacist found empty bottles.  Bottles that the store’s own inventory reported as full.

Not the First Time

While it might be easy to dismiss this case as the classic “rogue employee” situation, this is not the first time CVS has made headlines for its inability to track its opioids.  In June 2016, the pharmacy giant paid $3.5 million to settle allegations that in Massachusetts and New Hampshire it routinely filled fraudulent opioid prescriptions that the pharmacists should have caught.[2]  In February 2016, CVS paid $8 million to settle charges that from 2008 to 2012 CVS pharmacies in Maryland dispensed oxycodone, fentanyl, and hydrocodone without determining if the prescriptions were for a “legitimate medical purpose” as required by regulations.[3]

CVS is the Pharmacy Compliance Poster Child

With three (3) events, spanning four (4) states in less than one (1) year, CVS is clearly not adequately “minding the store.” These events demonstrate that frequent, independent audits and inspections are “must have” controls, regardless of the size of the pharmacy chain saving a store money, aggravation, and embarrassment.  The time to start is during the normal day-to-day running of the business before an unfortunate incident -or series of events- results in a significant loss to a settlement.   By starting today, the controls become a regular part of the everyday internal company processes.

Hiring an experienced firm like Whitelaw Compliance Group to work with your business on a regular basis can save the company aggravation, embarrassment, and money.  It also clearly sets a standard of compliance excellence, signaling a commitment to quality for the world to see.


[1] Katie Eder, CVS Pharmacist Charged with Using Stolen Pills in the Pharmacy, Pharmacy Times (Aug 8, 2016) at

[2] Vivian Wang, CVS pays $3.5m to settle claims it filled fake painkiller prescriptions, The Boston Globe (Jun 30, 2016) at

[3] U.S. Department of Justice, United States Reaches $8 Million Settlement Agreement with CVS for Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substance, Press Release (Feb 12, 2016) at