A federal judge here has allowed the government to suspend Cardinal Health Inc’s license to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland, Fla., facility.


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Cardinal Health loses round in DEA battle

March 12th, 2012

WASHINGTON – A federal judge here has allowed the government to suspend Cardinal Health Inc’s license to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland, Fla., facility.

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton denied Cardinal Health Inc.’s request for a preliminary injunction on February 29, a few weeks after the company won a temporary restraining order blocking the Drug Enforcement Administration’s suspension efforts.

That order has been lifted and Cardinal Health says it will appeal the latest ruling.
In siding with the DEA, Walton said that after studying additional information from the agency he agreed with the decision to suspend the license of Cardinal’s Lakeland distribution center because of what he saw as inadequate record keeping and Cardinal’s failure to notice and report higher-than-normal deliveries of oxycodone to four CVS pharmacies in the state.

“I think DEA is correct that companies have an obligation to police themselves and to be proactive in assessing whether diversion is taking place,” Walton said. “Cardinal, if it were being proactive, should have found a problem with those pharmacies and should have taken some action earlier.”

While Cardinal executives say they understand the DEA’s need to combat the abuse of pain pills like oxycodone, going after drug wholesalers is not the way to achieve that goal.

“Effectively addressing prescription drug abuse requires a very different approach than does the war on illicit drugs,” the company said in a statement. “We want to work collaboratively with all participants in the drug supply chain — including regulators, pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, pharmacists, doctors and boards of pharmacy — to combat this serious nationwide issue.

“We want to be part of a new, more effective solution to stop prescription drug abuse, without disrupting legitimate use,” Cardinal said.

Walton’s decision to allow the DEA to to suspend Cardinal’s license to ship controlled substances from its Lakeland distribution center comes a little more than a month after the agency issued an order to suspend the sale of controlled substances by two CVS/pharmacy units in the Orlando area, and the shipment of them from Cardinal’s Lakeland center that supplied the stores.

The agency said the pharmacies were dispensing amounts of oxycodone far in excess of legitimate needs.

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