Seattle Cancer Care Alliance settles federal investigation after 96k pills stolen

The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance will pay the federal government $250,000 and implement more stringent prescription drug safeguards to settle a federal fraud investigation regarding a former employee who stole more than 96,000 oxycodone pills between 2011 and 2013, according to the Seattle Times.

The former employee was a nurse who falsified and altered prescriptions for 42 patients to steal painkillers from the SCCA's pharmacy. Once the scheme was discovered, the SCCA fired the nurse and reported the fraud to federal authorities. The nurse, who was not identified in the report, later committed suicide, according to the Seattle Times.

"This case reflects the Justice Department's commitment to use all of the enforcement tools at our disposal to ensure that highly abused substances are provided to patients under the supervision of their doctors and not leaked to the illicit drug trade," Helen J. Brunner, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said in a Thursday statement announcing the settlement.

None of the stolen pills were recovered, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle. The estimated street value for the stolen oxycodone was about $1.4 million, or $15 per pill.

Under the terms of the settlement, SCCA admits no legal wrongdoing but will pay the $250,000 fee. The center has also agreed to require its pharmacists to confirm medication orders with prescribers or take other reasonable steps to ensure the correct patients receive their medications. It will also report the nurse's fraud in SCCA records for each patient whose identity was used to acquire false prescriptions, according to the report.

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