(GoRealNewsNow.com) – Rite Aid Corporation, one of the largest drug store chains in the United States, is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly contributing to the national opioid epidemic that has taken the lives of so many Americans.
The Department of Justice claims that while filling hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for controlled substances, Rite Aid ignored “obvious red flags” relevant to the opioid epidemic, Newsmax reported.
“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,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland declared in a release.
More specifically, the DOJ complaint accuses Rite Aid of breaking the federal False Claims Act (FCA) and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) by knowingly filling illegal prescriptions for controlled substances.
According to the Justice Department, Rite Aid also filed false prescription claims with government-funded healthcare programs.
The complaint asserts that between May 2014 and June 2019, Rite Aid pharmacists filled hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for controlled medications, including opioids.
Those were either “medically unnecessary” or should have raised suspicions since they “lacked a medically accepted indication, or were not issued in the usual course of professional practice.”
The DOJ said Rite Aid employees either “ignored these red flags” or invested little effort in investigating the cases.
What is more, the management of the drug store chain is accused of “turning a blind eye” to the practice and even scolding those pharmacists who dared to voice their concerns.
The report quotes Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) as saying that pharmacies must dispense prescription drugs “based on valid prescriptions.”
“Prescriptions which are not medically necessary, and not for a medically accepted indication, will not be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid,” Dixon said.
“HHS-OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the Department of Justice’sJustice’s Civil Division to recover improperly paid funds through the FCA,” the special agent added.
According to the US government, Ride Aid filled prescriptions for a “dangerous and highly abused” combination of opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants known as “the trinity.”
The drug store corporation also refilled opioid prescriptions early, before patients should have run out.
More of the DOJ accusations claim that Rite Aid’sAid’s pharmacists filled prescriptions for unusually high doses or massive quantities of opioids.
They also filled prescriptions from doctors flagged as “writing illegitimate prescriptions.”
“[Rite Aid’sAid’s actions] opened the floodgates for millions of opioid pills and other controlled substances to flow illegally out of Rite Aid’sAid’s stores,” declared Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.
Rite Aid Corporation runs more than 2,200 pharmacies in 17 states. In 2021, the United States saw more than 106,000 drug overdose deaths, as per National Institute on Drug Abuse data.
What is your opinion? Are you concerned about how Rite Aid and perhaps other drug stores contribute to opioid abuse in the United States? Share your view by emailing [email protected]. Thank you.
The Justice Department is suing Rite Aid, claiming the drugstore chain ignored "obvious red flags" when filling hundreds of thousands of controlled substance prescriptions and contributing to the national opioid epidemic. https://t.co/eYyeR13hfL
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) March 14, 2023