Medical-products distributor McKesson Corp. has agreed to pay almost $13.3 million in fines to six U.S. attorneys offices to settle allegations that company officials failed to report suspicious Internet sales of controlled substances that it distributed. McKesson admits no liability under the settlement.
According to a U.S. Justice Department news release, beginning in September 2005, McKesson was warned by the Drug Enforcement Administration about excessive sales of the narcotic pain-reliever ingredient hydrocodone and anti-anxiety drug alprazolam to pharmacies filling illegal online prescriptions. But the distributor failed to report unusually large and frequent orders of the drugs by several pharmacies.
Under the agreement, the settlement will be split among six U.S. attorneys offices. McKesson will pay $7.5 million to the Middle District of Florida; $2 million to the District of Maryland; $1 million to the District of Colorado; $2 million to the Southern District of Texas; $544,000 to the District of Utah; and $250,000 to the Eastern District of California. The company also has agreed to a temporary distribution suspension of the two drugs from two of its 31 centers. The centers were not identified in news releases from either McKesson or the Justice Department.
"The security of the nations pharmaceutical supply chain is one of McKessons highest priorities," said McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical President John Figueroa in a news release. Calls to McKesson for further comment were not returned by deadline. The San Francisco-based company is the second largest medical-products distributor in six months to face charges of failing to report rogue Internet sales of hydrocodone. In November 2007, the DEA shut down Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Healths Auburn, Wash., distribution center under similar accusations.