Kroger Limited Partnership and Kroger Pharmacy will pay $225,000 to the U.S. Government to settle allegations that its Rio Hill Center store in Charlottesville violated the Controlled Substances Act more than a dozen times in the course of a year, federal officials announced Wednesday.
The government claimed that the Rio Hill Kroger violated the act 16 times from May 2015 to May 2016. The settlement agreement, which was signed Nov. 12, is not an admission of liability by Kroger.
Violations include improperly filled “office use only” prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, did not keep necessary federal forms and failed to provide effective controls and procedures to guard against diversion of controlled substances, according to the agreement.
That agreement did not specify which specific drugs were involved. Schedule II prescription drugs include oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine, according to the DEA.
“Pharmacies are vital partners in our collective efforts to reduce the unlawful diversion and use of dangerous opioid drugs,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said in a statement. “As this case illustrates, federal prosecutors will utilize all available tools, including civil actions, to ensure that entities and individuals involved in the lawful dispensing of these potentially deadly drugs fully comply with the law.”
Brian McGinn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, said this is one of the first times the district has used a civil violation of the act.
Jesse Fong, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Field Division, said in a statement that the case is an example of the DEA “doing its part to help end the prescription drug and opioid crisis in our region.”
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to find and prosecute medical professionals working to illegally distribute these drugs, and will not rest until we see the end of abusive prescribing practices in our area,” he said.
A Kroger spokeswoman said in a statement that the company has implemented multiple ongoing processes to identify and correct potential issues quickly.
“Kroger takes DEA requirements very seriously, and we continually train our associates on the DEA requirements to help ensure regulatory compliance,” she said.
The spokeswoman said no job losses are expected as a result of the settlement.