(The Hill) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing pharmacy giant Rite Aid for allegedly filling hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for controlled substances that had “obvious red flags” amid the country’s opioid epidemic.
The DOJ is arguing that Rite Aid violated the federal False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act, submitting false prescription claims to government health care programs and knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances, according to a Tuesday release.
“We allege that Rite Aid filled hundreds of thousands of prescriptions that did not meet legal standards,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said. “According to our complaint, Rite Aid’s pharmacists repeatedly filled prescriptions for controlled substances with obvious red flags, and Rite Aid intentionally deleted internal notes about suspicious prescribers.”
“These practices opened the floodgates for millions of opioid pills and other controlled substances to flow illegally out of Rite Aid’s stores,” Gupta added.
One of the nation’s top pharmacy chains, Rite Aid runs over 2,200 pharmacies in 17 states.
The DOJ is alleging that Rite Aid filled prescriptions that did not have a legitimate medical purpose or were not “issued in the usual course of professional practice” between May 2014 and June 2019. Among the prescribed drugs were opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl, according to the release.
“The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to confront the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and shattering communities across the country. That includes holding corporations, like Rite Aid, accountable,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
The Hill has reached out to Rite Aid for comment.