CVS, which has nearly 10,000 locations nationwide, has had a spotty go of it regarding the war on opioids. In 2015 it ponied up $22 million to the DEA for improper opioid distribution, then it paid $8 million the next year for unlawful distribution of controlled substances.
But it’s the “drug monitoring program,” which CVS put in place in 2012, that is the most problematic — and it accounts for our client being in the position he’s in with the pharmacy.
This system “uses algorithms to gather aggregate data on physician prescribing practices to identify physicians who demonstrate extreme patterns of prescribing certain highly regulated drugs.” Any physician who gets “flagged” by CVS is then interviewed and investigated.
Did our client undergo an investigation before CVS took action against him?
CVS did not look at medical records or charts, patient pharmacy profiles, or individual patient data. It did not talk to any patients. It did not conduct inspection of our client’s practice. It did not single out any prescription as illicit.
All it did was go by statistical data and a single phone call.
But CVS is not the only entity to do things this way. The federal government employs the same tactics.
As Ronald W. Chapman II, who chairs Chapman Law Group’s White Collar Defense & Government Investigations practice group and filed this immediate lawsuit, told the Center for Effective Regulatory Policy & Safe Access on its “Pain Politics” podcast:
“[W]e’re seeing in more recent cases, [Department of Justice] prosecutions are data driven. Prosecutions are initiated before an investigator has even looked at a medical record, before an investigator has even interviewed a patient. And in many cases, even though patients are clearly suffering from severe medical issues, the fact that a patient may have exhibited some signs of diversion or may have had a prior history of diversion is enough for federal prosecutors to move forward and indict that doctor.”