ABINGDON, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A Virginia-based health system has agreed to pay millions to settle claims it violated the Controlled Substances Act.

According to a release, Sovah Health has agreed to pay $4.36 million in the settlement with the United States and be subject to a period of four years of increased compliance and oversight.

The health system was accused of violating the Controlled Substances Act on several occasions between 2017 and 2020. Should it fail to comply with the obligations of the settlement, it could face additional financial sanctions.

According to the allegations, one Sovah Health employee diverted more than 11,000 Schedule II controlled substances from the health system between 2017 and 2019. 

Then in 2020, a second employee tampered with Fentanyl vials and hydromorphone injectables, replacing the controlled substance with saline and then diverting the drug.

The United States accused the hospital of failing to provide effective controls and procedures to guard against the diversion of controlled substances, filled folders for such substances without a system in place to disclose suspicious orders, and failed to maintain readily retrievable records of controlled substances.

“As opioid overdose deaths skyrocket, it is critical that health care companies are held accountable when they fail to effectively safeguard these powerful prescriptions within their facilities,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh for the Western District of Virginia. “The oversight provided by this resolution will ensure future compliance involving these important but potentially deadly substances, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia will continue to vigorously pursue these cases with our federal and local partners in order to protect Virginia’s communities.”

“With opioid deaths and overdoses at record-breaking highs, especially across Southside Virginia, there must be zero tolerance of trusted health professionals engaging in drug diversion,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “For the safety and protection of Virginia's communities, our Virginia State Police Drug Diversion special agents, in collaboration with our local and federal public safety partners, will continue to aggressively pursue investigations related to the illegal distribution of Fentanyl and other prescription drugs.”

Under this agreement, Sovah Health’s potential civil and criminal liability is resolved, and the health system has committed to putting in place more compliance measures, such as having cameras at its Automatic Dispensing Machines, reporting losses, and conducting a full physical inventory of all federally scheduled II-V controlled substances more frequently than required by law.

The release says this is the third-largest civil penalty obtained from a hospital system under the Controlled Substances Act across the country. It is the largest ever obtained in the Fourth Circuit.