The Biden administration is set to sue the pharmacy chain Rite Aid, claiming that its employees ignored “red flags” while filling prescriptions, helping to fuel the opioid crisis.
In its March 13 filing, the Justice Department alleges that between 2014 and 2019 employees at Rite-Aid filled “at least hundreds of thousands” of unnecessary and unlawful prescriptions for opioids. Despite the company’s state and federal obligations to the law, the filing continued, “Rite Aid pharmacists repeatedly filled prescriptions for controlled substances that had obvious, and often multiple, red flags.”
In addition, the Justice Department is accusing Rite Aid of “intentionally deleting internal notes” flagging suspicious prescriptions and “directing district managers to tell pharmacists to be ‘mindful of everything that is put in writing.'”
United States Files Complaint Alleging that Rite Aid Dispensed Controlled Substances in Violation of the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Acthttps://t.co/irSF7fNKZ9
— DOJCivil (@DOJCivil) March 13, 2023
Accusing the company of putting profits first, the Justice Department also said Rite Aid “opened the floodgates for millions of pills of opioids and other controlled substances to flow illegally out of their stores.” (RELATED: Biden Admin Gave Money For Overdose Prevention To…Planned Parenthood)
“The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to confront the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and shattering communities across the country,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced in the press release. “That includes holding corporations, like Rite Aid, accountable for knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.”
Garland’s sentiments were echoed by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler for the Northern District of Ohio, who called the legal action against Rite Aid a “continuation of the Justice Department’s commitment” to hold individuals and corporations who have profited from the crisis accountable.
“Pharmacies, physicians, corporations, and other health care entities that have contributed to the proliferation of opioids in our communities and the tragic loss of life from overdose deaths must answer for their role in the crisis we now face,” Baeppler said in the statement. (RELATED: Health Companies To Pay Out Over $10 Billion In Settlements For Role In Opioid Epidemic)
Between 1999 and 2020, over 564,000 people died from an overdose stemming from both prescription and illicit opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The crisis took a drastic turn in 2019 when opioid related deaths increased by 38%.
A spokesperson for Rite Aid informed the Daily Caller the company is declining to comment as this is a litigation matter.