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Judge Sides with DEA in Case Involving Oxycodone Sales at Two CVS Stores

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A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acted appropriately in suspending the controlled-substances licenses of two CVS stores in Florida. The DEA charged the stores had failed to closely monitor sales of oxycodone.

Judge Reggie Walton delayed his ruling until Wednesday morning, in order to give CVS time to appeal, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In February, the DEA moved to suspend the licenses of the stores because of what the agency called suspiciously high volumes of oxycodone sales. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., then 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 CVS spokesperson said the company had taken steps, with the DEA’s knowledge, to stop filling prescriptions from physicians thought to be prescribing controlled narcotics improperly.

Earlier this month, Judge Walton ruled that drug distribution companies must “self-police” to track unusually big drug shipments that might be used improperly. The ruling allows the DEA to halt shipments of oxycodone and other controlled medications from a Cardinal Health distribution facility in Florida. Cardinal said it will appeal the decision.

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