Washington Drug Chain Settles over Invalid Prescriptions

December 21, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice says it and Bartell Drugs have resolved allegations that the pharmacy chain filled invalid prescriptions between July 2016 and August 2020 in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said under the terms of the settlement, Bartell Drugs will pay the government an $800,000 fine.

The company, founded in Seattle, Wash., fully cooperated in the investigation, Moran said.

Some 400 prescriptions were written by four medical professionals whose licenses to practice had been suspended or otherwise restricted by the Washington Medical Commission, according to the settlement agreement.

Bartell Drugs allegedly failed to implement fully a computer system that could verify physicians’ licensing automatically by pharmacists, and some Bartell pharmacists failed to conduct individual licensing checks. The Justice Department said that resulted in Bartell Drugs filling invalid prescriptions for controlled substances.

Some of the prescriptions were written by medical professionals who had been publicly sanctioned and even indicted for violations of federal law, Moran said.

Bartell does not admit any wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement, and the government maintains that its allegations are well founded, the Justice Department said.

The fine will be paid by Bartell Drug and has no impact on the sale of Bartell Drug to Rite Aid Corporation, which was announced earlier this fall.

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