Farm Fresh settles in case on alleged pharmacy record-keeping violations

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 12:10:53-05

NORFOLK, Va. – Farm Fresh Acquisition, Inc. has agreed to pay $1 million in order to settle civil penalty claims stemming from alleged record-keeping violations by its pharmacies.

“The abuse of prescription drugs is one of the most alarming and critical issues we face today,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “To combat this problem, it is crucial that those who dispense controlled substances comply with record-keeping requirements. These requirements help to prevent the illegal diversion of prescription drugs, and holding registrants accountable serves a vital role in our office’s effort to combat every manner of the opioid crises affecting Virginia.”

There are 34 pharmacies operated by Farm Fresh, most of which are in Norfolk. Each pharmacy was registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which allowed Farm Fresh to maintain and dispense controlled substances, including opioids, at those locations.

“The abuse of prescription drugs has directly resulted in the escalation of heroin addiction and related overdoses,” said Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA’s Washington Field Division. “Today’s settlement sends a clear message to all pharmacies that it is essential to dispense controlled substances in compliance with DEA’s record keeping requirements. DEA is dedicated to combatting the prescription drug abuse problem in Virginia and throughout the country and to hold all DEA registrants accountable.”

Between Sept. 9, 2014 and Sept. 21, 2016, The United States alleges that Farm Fresh pharmacies violated the Controlled Substances Act by failing to record dates and quantities of controlled substances shipped and received, failing to record the DEA numbers of suppliers, and failing to timely notify the DEA of theft losses.

Despite several of the pharmacies having received Letters of Admonition from DEA for failing to properly complete and maintain the required records, the failures still occurred.

Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), to help fight the illegal distribution and abuse of controlled substances which includes prescription medications.

Under the CSA, entities registered with the DEA who purchase, distribute, dispense, transfer, or sell controlled substances must comply with inventory and documentation requirements.

Regulations circulated under the CSA require that each DEA registrant, including pharmacies, maintain complete and accurate records of each substance manufactured, received, sold, delivered, dispensed or otherwise disposed of by the registrant for two years. These requirements play a vital role in ensuring the appropriate handling, accounting, and distribution of controlled substances

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the DEA’s Washington Division obtained resolutions on this matter with coordinated efforts. The matter was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Wuerker.

The civil claims settled are allegations only; there has been no determination of civil liability.