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Appeals Court Rules CVS Can Sell Controlled Drugs at Two Florida Pharmacies

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An appeals court ruled Wednesday that CVS can continue to sell controlled drugs at two pharmacies in Florida. The ruling blocks an order by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to suspend shipments of the drugs.

Reuters reports the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit temporarily lifted the DEA’s suspension, issued in February. The agency was concerned CVS had failed to closely monitor sales of oxycodone.

Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., granted CVS a temporary restraining order, to allow the company to continue to sell controlled prescription drugs at the two pharmacies.

The DEA said the two pharmacies were “filling prescriptions far in excess of the legitimate needs of its customers.” While the average pharmacy in the United States in 2011 ordered approximately 69,000 oxycodone dosage units, these two pharmacies, located about 5.5 miles apart, together ordered more than three million dosage units during the same year, according to the DEA.

CVS said it would suffer irreparable harm if it were forced to stop filling prescriptions at the pharmacies. The company has already agreed to stop selling oxycodone and other Schedule II drugs at these pharmacies while the case is under review. The DEA suspension would prevent the pharmacies from filling prescriptions for any controlled substance, including painkillers, stimulants and tranquilizers.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the DEA acted appropriately in suspending the controlled-substances licenses of the two pharmacies. Judge Reggie Walton delayed his ruling until Wednesday morning, in order to give CVS time to appeal. On Wednesday, the appeals court issued a stop pending further proceedings, according to Reuters. CVS must file a response by March 19, and the DEA must file a response by March 21.

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