(Reuters) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is revoking the controlled substance licenses of two CVS Caremark Corp drugstores in Florida as part of a government crackdown on potentially addictive painkillers, especially oxycodone, according to a court filing.
The DEA has alleged the two stores, about 30 miles south of Orlando, were inappropriately filling prescriptions for oxycodone, which can be highly addictive, and also had suspicious sales of other controlled substances.
However, CVS contends the high volume of oxycodone and other prescription painkillers from the two stores in Sanford, Florida, arose because they were busy pharmacies, being close to Interstate Highway 4 - with one store operating 24 hours a day.
The DEA has increased its focus on drug wholesalers and pharmacies as it tries to battle what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call a prescription drug abuse “epidemic.
Deaths from narcotic painkillers now top deaths from heroin and cocaine combined, according to the government.
The license revocations will take effect 30 days from the date the order is published in the Federal Register, according to the filing.
CVS, which runs more than 7,300 U.S. stores and has a large pharmacy benefits management business, said it is reviewing the decision and evaluating its options.
The company said it has responded to the DEA’s concerns, including enhancing its policies and procedures for filling controlled substance prescriptions.
At the request of company lawyers, the DEA has agreed to redact any confidential company information prior to the publication of the order in the Federal Register, the agency said in the filing.
The case is Holiday CVS LLC v. Justice Department et al in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 12-5072, consolidated with Case No. 12-1128.
Reporting by Sakthi Prasad; additional reporting by Sunayan Bhattacharjee and Jessica Wohl; editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jeffrey Benkoe