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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

RITE AID WILL PAY $177,000 TO NALOXONE FUND AND WILL UPDATE OPIOID DISPENSING PRACTICES IN SETTLEMENT WITH AG HEALEY

RITE AID WILL PAY $177,000 TO NALOXONE FUND AND WILL UPDATE OPIOID DISPENSING PRACTICES IN SETTLEMENT WITH AG HEALEY
Brings Total AG Led Naloxone Fund to $919,000

BOSTON – Rite Aid of Massachusetts will contribute $177,000 to the state’s Municipal Naloxone Fund and correct its procedures to settle allegations that its dispensing of controlled substances, including opioids, failed to follow regulations designed to prevent substance use disorder, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

“In our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, pharmacies are on the front lines,” AG Healey said. “Today’s settlement with Rite Aid will update their practices and provide more lifesaving doses of naloxone to first responders, helping keep this fund available for as long as it is needed.”

In an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court today, the AG’s Office alleges that some Rite Aid pharmacies dispensed controlled substances in exchange for out-of-pocket payments rather than billing MassHealth. The AG’s Office alleges that in doing so, Rite Aid violated MassHealth regulations by failing to monitor drug utilization patterns of MassHealth members enrolled in the Controlled Substance Management Program (CSMP). 

MassHealth administers the CSMP, a program for its members who use large quantities of prescribed drugs. Except in very limited circumstances, CSMP regulations require that a CSMP member obtain all prescribed medications from a single pharmacy known as the member’s primary pharmacy. The primary pharmacy is required to monitor the prescription use pattern of each CSMP member and use sound professional judgment when dispensing all prescription drugs.

AG Healey’s Medicaid Fraud Division began an investigation into certain policies and practices of Rite Aid relating to the dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances to individuals enrolled in the state’s CSMP. That investigation began in conjunction with similar inquiries into CVS and Walgreens for alleged non-compliance with CSMP regulations.

The AG’s Office partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Legislature in 2015 to create the Municipal Naloxone Fund. The Fund allows municipalities to purchase naloxone for use by first responders at a heavily discounted rate. In addition to today’s payment of $177,000 from Rite Aid, the AG’s Office has contributed over $740,000 to the fund.  

These settlements are part of AG Healey’s ongoing efforts to combat the growing opioid addiction crisis in Massachusetts. The AG’s Office is looking at a host of other practices, from marketing by pharmaceutical companies, to pill diversion and drug trafficking by criminal entities, to coverage for substance use disorder treatment by insurance companies.
The AG’s Office also continues to work on solutions that include eliminating barriers to treatment and supporting prevention and education initiatives across the state. In 2017, the AG’s Office and the GE Foundation launched Project Here, an initiative that is making substance use prevention education available to all public middle schools in Massachusetts.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Anthony Vargas and Investigator Kaleigh Ross of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division, with significant assistance from MassHealth.

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