Have you ever noticed that Walgreens Pharmacies are usually extremely busy? You will likely see every pharmacist and technician occupied with a customer when you enter the pharmacy area of one of their stores. Which makes you think that they are chronically understaffed – and maybe they are. Does it make you wonder why they don’t just hire more people? If they did, pharmacists would have more time to carefully check each prescription and consult more thoroughly with their patients. But, more people means more expense and that expenditure would undoubtedly eat into their very large profits.
A recent investigation performed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) revealed that Walgreens had bonus programs that incentivized pharmacists to fill more prescriptions to produce additional profits. This company was so focused on money that they even gave their pharmacists an incentive for ignoring red flags. In one particular location, they were filling prescriptions and selling Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Xanax to patients that weren’t using painkillers for medical purposes. Walgreens even committed record-keeping and dispensing violations at its Jupiter, Florida distribution center while failing to flag suspicious orders of drugs from its pharmacies. They were ordering astronomical amounts of Oxycodone. For example, the Hudson store ordered 388,100 oxycodone units in 2009 and 2.1 million units in 2011. The national average for pharmacies purchasing this painkiller is only 73,000 units annually.
Their negligence (and greed) resulted in the DEA fining them to the tune of $80 million – the largest civil penalty in the Controlled Substances Act’s history. In addition to the Florida location, pharmacies located in Colorado, Michigan, and New York were also fined. In the end, Walgreens agreed to stop the bonus program that rewarded pharmacists for filling more prescriptions. This move took away the “perception” that they were pushing profits over health, whether they changed their focus or not.
Mark Trouville, Chief of the DEA’s Miami field office, said this is “a clear example of inexcusable corporate conduct that existed only for greed and profit. National pharmaceutical chains are not exempt from following the law.”
When a pharmacy prioritizes wealth over a customer’s health and well-being, many bad things can happen. If a company trains or incentivizes their pharmacists to push themselves, overlook red-flags, work overtime, and engage in other problematic activities. In that case, they could easily make mistakes that could cause the customers severe damage and, in some cases, even death.
If you or your loved one were injured due to a negligent Walgreens Pharmacy, don’t think twice and contact Kennedy Law Firm, LLC at 713-325-6445. You have the right to file a claim against them. You can also request our free e-book, “Making Pharmacies Pay for their Mistakes.”