A federal judge has granted CVS a temporary restraining order, which will allow the company to continue to sell controlled prescription drugs at two pharmacies in Florida. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the pharmacies last weekend and suspended their licenses to dispense controlled substances.
Reuters reports Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., said it was likely CVS will be able to show that the DEA did not establish the “imminent danger to public health” that is needed to suspend pharmacies’ registrations.
According to a DEA statement, 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. The agency said the pharmacies knew, or should have known, that a large number of the prescriptions for controlled substances that it filled were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose, or were issued outside the usual course of professional practice.
CVS said it would suffer irreparable harm if it were forced to stop filling prescriptions at the pharmacies. The judge noted 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 have prevented 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.