(Adds company comment, details)
NEW YORK Nov 29 Drug wholesaler Cardinal
Health Inc (CAH.N) said on Thursday the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration will suspend its license to distribute
controlled substances from its Auburn, Washington, facility due
to a failure to properly oversee hydrocodone sales.
The order received from the DEA said Cardinal "failed to
maintain effective controls against the diversion of a
particular controlled substance," and cited sale of hydrocodone
to one pharmacy that allegedly dispensed excessive amounts of
the powerful painkiller based on illegitimate prescriptions
from Internet pharmacy Web sites, the company said.
The DEA informed the company that in excess of 600,000
dosage units of hydrocodone were sold by the one pharmacy from
March 2007 to September 2007, Cardinal spokesman Jim Mazzola
Cardinal said the temporary suspension, which takes effect
Dec. 3, affects only controlled-substance shipments from the
one facility. The Auburn, Washington, distribution center will
still be able to ship prescription medicines not classified as
controlled substances to pharmacies and other customers.
Cardinal said steps were being taken to ensure continuity
of service to its customers. The company will still be able to
ship the affected drugs from other centers, Mazzola said.
The Dublin, Ohio-based company said it will cooperate fully
with the DEA to resolve the suspension.
While Cardinal called the suspension temporary, Mazzola
said it was not immediately clear how long it might remain in
effect or what steps the company would have to take to resolve
Hydrocodone is an extremely addictive opiate pain medicine
and has been associated with high levels of abuse.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Gary Hill)