Tribal pharmacy fined $95K in missing oxycodone case

By | November 21, 2018

MISSOULA – Federal authorities say 2,500 oxycodone pills went missing from a Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal pharmacy in St. Ignatius.

The pharmacy is agreeing to pay a $ 95,520 civil penalty as part of a settlement alleging pharmacy violations, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

The DEA said an inspection from March 2017 to March 2018 found that thousands of pills were stolen or unaccounted for at the pharmacy.

Officials say the pharmacy will be monitored closely, and could be subject to a $ 240,640 fine if it doesn’t comply with record-keeping rules.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Pharmacy settles claims

MISSOULA – The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Pharmacy and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have reached an agreement settling alleged pharmacy violations in which the pharmacy will pay a $ 95,520 civil penalty and take other steps to ensure compliance with federal law and Drug Enforcement Administration regulations, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme announced.

The settlement agreement is the result of an inspection by the DEA for activity from March 2017 to March 2018.  The DEA has the responsibility to inspect pharmacies or medical providers that dispense controlled substances to ensure they are complying with federal regulations.  The regulations are designed to prevent the theft or diversion of controlled substances to unauthorized users.

The DEA conducted the inspection after it learned that approximately 2,500 oxycodone pills had been stolen or unaccounted for from the Tribes’ pharmacy in St. Ignatius, on the Flathead Indian Reservation.  During the investigation, the DEA discovered significant violations of the regulations, including failing to adequately track records of the controlled substances in the pharmacy and failing to report the missing oxycodone pills to the DEA.

In addition to the $ 95,520 penalty, the pharmacy also must take numerous measures to ensure compliance in the future. The pharmacy must conduct annual evaluations of its compliance for three years and certify to the DEA that it is meeting all regulatory requirements. If it has future violations, the pharmacy will be subject to a judgment for the full potential penalty of $ 240,640 for the alleged violations. 

“This settlement is an important step toward ensuring that opioids are properly controlled in the CSKT Pharmacy,” said U.S. Attorney Alme. “For the safety of the community, we need to ensure that the pharmacy is managed responsibly in the future. The penalty puts every pharmacy in Montana on notice that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DEA will vigorously enforce controlled substance regulations to prevent diversion of the prescription opioids that are harming our communities.”

 “We appreciate the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes taking this issue seriously.  It is our hope that this settlement and the tribe’s plan to bring the pharmacy into compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations requirements will prevent future diversion of controlled substances,” said Stacy Zinn-Brittain, DEA regional agent in charge for Montana.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Dishong worked on the settlement agreement. The DEA’s Western Montana Tactical Diversion Squad investigated the case.

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