CVS responsible for nearly 70% of missing controlled substances at Massachusetts pharmacies last year, records show

Maia Anderson -

CVS Health pharmacies lost more controlled substances in Massachusetts in 2020 than all of the state's other pharmacies combined, according to records GBH News obtained from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy. 

Nearly 7,000 doses of controlled substances went missing from CVS pharmacies, accounting for almost 70 percent of all doses lost by pharmacies in the state last year, GBH News reported. In total, 10,000 doses of controlled substances went missing from all Massachusetts pharmacies in 2020. 

CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the state, with 420 pharmacies. Walgreens is the next largest, with 245 pharmacies in the state. Walgreens lost about 1,300 doses from its pharmacies last year. CVS lost an average of 16 pills per pharmacy, while Walgreens lost an average of five per pharmacy, according to GBH News

Rite Aid, which has 10 stores in the state, lost 61 controlled substance doses in 2020, and the 48 Walmart pharmacies in the state didn't lose any. 

"We have stringent policies and procedures in place to help prevent the loss of controlled substances, as well as to help detect it when it occurs," CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis said in a statement to Becker's. "Drug diversion is typically discovered through our own internal processes and investigations, and we notify the appropriate authorities and regulators, including state boards of pharmacy. We operate well over 400 pharmacies in Massachusetts. Comparatively, the number of controlled substance loss incidents we had last year was extremely low. We've cooperated with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy to resolve these isolated incidents."

Walgreens did not respond to Becker's request for comment.

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