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Back in November, the Whitelaw Compliance Group reported that the DEA was stepping up audits and enforcement actions against pharmacies.  Now we  begin to see the results. Palisade Pharmacy in Palisade, Colorado,  just agreed to pay $60,000 in civil penalties to settle allegations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado that it violated various provisions of Controlled Substances Act and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (CMEA).

Palisade allegedly committed 480 violations of the two (2) Acts including:

  •  shipping controlled substances to unregistered locations;
  • failing to verify addresses on DEA order forms to the corresponding addresses registered with the DEA;
  • filling prescriptions for controlled substances despite missing required information on the face of the prescription;
  • failing to maintain, record, and retain complete and accurate records relating to distribution of controlled substances; and
  • selling List I chemical products without a valid self-certification certificate.

Now for the icing on the cake.

In addition to paying the penalty, Palisade signed an administrative settlement agreement agreeing to enhanced reporting and training requirements, as well as  a three-year surrender of its CMEA certification that allows it to sell List 1 chemicals.

If you are still not convinced the DEA is serious, listen to Barbra Roach, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Denver Field Division.

“The diversion of pharmaceuticals and chemicals for illicit gain and profit is nothing more than drug trafficking. Those occupying positions of trust and responsibility, such as medical practitioners and pharmacists, have to be held accountable when they chose to operate illegally and threaten the safety of our communities.”

The unfortunate thing is that all of this was preventable.  With a proper internal review and the establishment of SOPs, basic training and monitoring, not only would Palisades have saved the $60,000, but all those other costs including attorney’s fees and bad press.  Clearly this is a case where a small investment (less than the total fine) spent with a knowledgeable consultant would have paid dividends.  Pharmacies around the country should take heed and get help.