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DEA Investigating Three Walgreens Pharmacies in Drug Diversion Case

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it is investigating three Walgreens pharmacies in Florida because of concerns over possible prescription drug diversion.

The Miami Field Division of the DEA issued orders for the pharmacies, requiring them to prove why they should be permitted to keep their licenses, Reuters reports.

In April, DEA agents searched six Walgreens stores and a distribution center in Florida. The agency said it was investigating whether Walgreens allowed suspiciously large sales of prescription opioids, which might indicate the pills are being diverted. DEA agents searched through business records looking for what percentage of customers pay for oxycodone for cash. A high percentage could indicate drugs are being diverted to the black market.

Earlier this year, the DEA ordered two CVS pharmacies in Florida to stop selling controlled drugs. The agency was concerned CVS had failed to closely monitor sales of oxycodone. The DEA has tried to tighten control on major national pharmacies to help prevent painkillers such as oxycodone from getting on the black market.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville said in a news release, “The diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances continues to be a great concern for the DEA. A DEA registration is a privilege and not a license for bad behavior. These registrants have a responsibility to their customers, as well as to the community to be an advocate against prescription drug abuse that has plagued Florida since 2009, and not contribute to the epidemic.”

A Walgreens spokesman, Jim Graham, told Reuters the company stopped accepting prescriptions for certain controlled substances at the three Florida pharmacies in May. The company also enhanced its ordering and inventory reporting requirements, to limit quantities of several controlled substances with high potential for risk, he added.

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