Kroger settles federal allegations concerning Rio Hill pharmacy

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A grocery store chain has agreed to settle civil allegations tied to one of its stores in Albemarle County.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia, Kroger Limited Partnership and Kroger Pharmacy have agreed to pay $225,000 to settle civil allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act more than a dozen times at the Rio Hill location.

"Pharmacies are vital partners in our collective efforts to reduce the unlawful diversion and use of dangerous opioid drugs," said U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen. "As this case illustrates, federal prosecutors will utilize all available tools, including civil actions, to ensure that entities and individuals involved in the lawful dispensing of these potentially deadly drugs fully comply with the law."

The store was accused of failing to guard against the diversion of such prescription drugs, which means legally prescribed medications were likely transferred to someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed for illicit use.

"This case is a great example of how the DEA is doing its part to help end the prescription drug and opioid crisis in our region," said Jesse R. Fong, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington Field Division. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to find and prosecute medical professionals working to illegally distribute these drugs, and will not rest until we see the end of abusive prescribing practices in our area."

The release says the store violated the federal law on at least 16 distinct occasions between May 2, 2015 and May 30, 2016.

Documents from the settlement state the United States claimed it improperly filled "office use only" prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, failed to make and keep DEA 222 order forms, improperly distributed a Schedule II controlled substance absent that required DEA 222 form, and failed to provide effective controls and procedures to guard against diversion of controlled substances.

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