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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

CVS Can’t Overturn DEA Closure of Pharmacies

WASHINGTON (CN) - Retail pharmacy giant CVS cannot reopen two Florida stores that the Drug Enforcement Administration shut down for dispensing "enormous quantities of oxycodone," a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton backed the immediate suspension orders (ISOs) issued by the DEA after the agency's investigation found that "between 2008 and 2011, the CVS pharmacies purchased enormous quantities of oxycodone that 'considerably surpassed the amount of oxycodone ordinarily purchased by a retail pharmacy.'"

The pharmacists in charge at both stores told DEA investigators that they dispensed controlled substances under circumstances in which they should have known that the drugs were being abused or diverted.

Holiday CVS LLC, a subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation, sued for an injunction, claiming that the ISOs violated the Administrative Procedures Act, but the judge said the evidence is far too strong to stop the suspension orders.

"Without a showing of likely success on the merits or irreparable harm, the plaintiffs cannot obtain preliminary injunctive relief," Walton wrote. "And for what it is worth, the balance of hardships and public interest also weigh in the government's favor."

The two pharmacies, numbered 219 and 5,195 within the CVS corporation, are both located in Sanford, Fla., a state where prescription painkiller abuse has become a rampant and deadly problem.

"Since the DEA served the warrants in October 2011, dispensing volumes for oxycodone at the two CVS pharmacies have decreased by 86%," Walton wrote. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths in 2008.

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