Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law 

On September 14, 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) blocked the Walgreens distribution center in Jupiter, Florida, from shipping oxycodone and other controlled drugs to its pharmacies in Florida and the East Coast with an immediate suspension order, according to the DEA. In the press release, the DEA called the Walgreens distribution facility an "imminent danger" to the public.

To see the entire press release from the DEA, click here.

Back in April 2012, the DEA served an administrative inspection warrant at the same facility, as well as its six top retail Walgreens pharmacies in Florida. To see my blog post on that story, click here.


Distribution Center Named "the Single Largest Distributor of Oxycodone Products in Florida."

The DEA said the Jupiter distribution center has been "the single largest distributor of oxycodone products in Florida" since 2009. The DEA issued the suspension order because it believes Walgreens failed to maintain proper controls to ensure its retailers didn’t dispense drugs to addicts and drug dealers.

The order only applies to the Jupiter distribution center and only suspends the distribution of controlled substances.

Whether or not bath salts fall into this category is unclear. The Florida Legislature recently banned the sale of bath salts and 90 other substances to help stop the big face-eating zombie outbreak in Florida. See my blog on bath salts and the zombie outbreak in Florida.

Recently, the DEA revoked the controlled substance licenses from two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Florida. The two stores are accused of dispensing an inappropriate number of prescriptions for oxycodone and had a suspicious number of sales of other controlled substances. There is a blog on this story on our website, click here to read it.

Walgreens Stores Allegedly Purchased Millions of Oxycodone Pills.

According to a USA Today article, six of Walgreens’ Florida pharmacies allegedly ordered more than a million oxycodone pills a year. One pharmacy in Oviedo, Florida, went from ordering more than 80,000 oxycodone pills in 2009, to nearly 1.7 million in 2011.

Click here to read the USA Today article.

DEA Continues to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse.

According to the DEA, this is an effort to curb Florida’s prescription drug epidemic. Special Agent Mark Trouville, with the DEA’s Miami Division, said all DEA licensees "have an obligation to ensure that medications are getting into the hands of legitimate patients. When they choose to look the other way, patients suffer and drug dealers prosper."

Neither Agent Trouville nor the DEA was, apparently, requested to comment on the bath salts ban and its effect on the zombie outbreak, however.

"Bean Counting" and the Use of Meaningless Numbers to Shock and Awe.

I really do not see why the public or our elected representatives are shocked and awed by the meaningless numbers and statistics used in connection with these matters. The fact that Walgreens, the biggest pharmacy retailer in Florida, might distribute over a million oxycodone pills in a year, is a meaningless statistic by itself. If a doctor prescribes a pain management patient a prescription for three (3) pills a day, that is approximately 90 pills per month or 1,080 pills per year. If Walgreens has only 1,000 patients with such a prescription in a year throughout the entire state of Florida, that is in excess of one million (1,000,000) pills per year. I would venture to guess that many single Walgreens retail stores have more than 1,000 customers per day, much less all Walgreens stores throughout Florida.

My point is that any such statistics are meaningless out of context and are only meant to sound huge of one doesn’t stop and think about it.

Another concern is that many, if not the vast majority of the Walgreens customers who now will not be able to get their prescriptions filled, are legitimate pain management patients with legitimate prescriptions written by legitimate physicians.


The Ultimate Results of Such Crackdowns.

I am constantly being contacted by patients who are in dire straits, suffering because they cannot locate a pharmacy to fill their legitimate pain medicine prescriptions. These include injured military veterans, patients who are 100% disabled and on disability or social security, patients injured in automobile accidents and job-related accidents (whose medications are paid for by insurance, if they can find a pharmacy to fill it) and others with real chronic pain issues.

If the largest legitimate chains of pharmacies in the state and nation are not allowed to fill these prescriptions, where will these suffering patients turn? Are these actions driving our citizens into the hands of shady independent pharmacies that have fewer safeguards and less accountability? Are these actions driving our citizens to seek out illegal drug dealers and turn to illegal drugs to cope with their legitimate medical problems? I hope not.

Thank you. I will get off my soapbox now.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm's attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.



Leinwand, Donna. "DEA Inspects Walgreens for Oxycodone Probe." USA Today. (September 15, 2012). From: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012/09/14/walgreens-and-oxycodone/57782912/1

Pavuk, Amy. "DEA Blocks Controlled-Substance Distribution at Florida Walgreens Facility." Orlando Sentinel. (September 14, 2012). From: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-09-14/news/os-walgreens-dea-suspension-20120914_1_distribution-center-dea-miami-field-division

DEA. "DEA Serves a Suspension Order on Walgreens Distribution Center in Jupiter, Florida." DEA.gov. (September 14, 2012). From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/mia/2012/mia091412.shtml


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. He does not own stock in Walgreens or any other pharmacy.


Tag Words: pharmacy, pharmacist, pharmacy investigation, defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrative law attorney, investigation, administrative hearings, controlled substance licenses, revoked license, registration, DEA raid, prescription drug trafficking, emergency suspension order, immediate suspension order, DEA defense attorney, DEA defense lawyer


"The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.


Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Kayann Sirvent says:

I'm one of those who are Totally Disabled and on SSI and I suffer EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE :( even with meds , so take away my meds And where does that leave me :,-( How am I suppose to live any Quality Of Life ??? I don't have much now !

Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Herb says:

I don't think this is wright the DEA is forcing us to go to the mom and pop pharmacys and they are charging 10 to 12 dollars a pill and will not take ins this is not wright and no one in there wright mind can afford this something has to be done I was in a car accident 15 yrs ago and I live in pain day in and out if I can't get my med and live with my pain being controlled and that is not pain free I don't want to live I bet anyone with the DEA or the governors office don't live in pain like me if this doesn't get worked out I will not have a life to live yes I work every day I don't live off the government I don't get a check in the mail once a month and if I did I wouldn't be able to get my meds like now please something needs to be done HELP.

Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Karen Stateler says:

The DEA failed in its "War on Drugs" and it is also failing miserably on "ensuring that medications are getting into the hands of legitimate pain patients". There is a growing crisis in Florida as the actions of the DEA is keeping medications out of the hands of legitimate patients, while the illegal drug dealers seem to have plenty of product. There is much chatting going on about class action lawsuits and personal injury lawsuits against pharmacies who refuse to fill legitimate prescriptions from legitimate physicians for legitimate sufferers of chronic pain.

Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Monday, December 3, 2012
Fred Dueane says:

The DEA is scaring pharmacies all across Amerika! I live in PA and you can't find anyone who will fill any oxi... prescriptions! I have had to drive to NJ but I'm being rejected more and more and I'm told that they can't get the pills. I have been taking pills and working for over 5 years, without them I will end up in the hospital and out of work. Great job DEA as usual you are hurting the innocent, tax paying citizens of Amerika!

Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
JAG says:

I'm sorry but you all need to get off the addictive narcotics. The pain you think you feel is your brain's addiction to wanting more opiates. everyone has pain. i have chronic pain everyday, but i don't want to turn into a numb human being....I see it in a family member today. they are addicted... searching for more drugs, a different drug, a different doctor, because he has "pain". Get off the drugs people. Dr's you should be ashamed, causing all these people to get addicted. HOW ABOUT TRYING IBUPROFEN?? OR SOMETHING ELSE THAT IS NOT ADDICTING. SCARY WORLD WE ARE BECOMING.

Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
tawanda mcqueen says:

i agree im totally disgusted with the entire situation of filling prescriptions in florida. the is a terrible abuse of our basic human rights. we all need to ban togather and fight this nationwide. i am ready and will join a class action lawsuit, sign any petition related. get these people out of office and lets get our country back we are loosing it people more and more of our rights every day including getting our legitimate prescriptions filled. they dont want any of us to fill our prescriptions its all there people. its only getting worse every day not better since they got their computer system thats linked, Have you seen any improvement?w. mcqueen ft. myers florida

Response to: Walgreens Distribution Center in Florida Served with an Immediate Suspension Order from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Joanne labbe says:

It's insane I'm disabled left for a year to assist my Mom in Maine to be able die at home.. I could not see a pain specialist after they fired the only local doctor kind enough to realize I was disable very sick and 30 years chronic pain she helped me for 3 months and was shut down for helping sick people, maybe a few drug seekers which will always be part of the life of aim.., I was watching a story that one night about how the DEA was gonna take these drugs off the streets. My Mom passed but on a weekly basis going from oxy to Vicodin she would say you are so much more sick/in pain you should be in my bed. Best most painful time of my life I have one regret that she had to see me suffer as much as I was for the lack of caring for us people suffering.. Sorry I am so glad Walgreens gave me a quality of life when I was living here the last 30 years I would be willing to get on a jury stand for anyone this DEA needs to be stopped and the last of my time on this earth I will spend to get

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