Michigan health system to pay largest settlement for alleged drug diversion in US history

McLaren Health Care entered a $7.75 million agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration to settle allegations of inappropriate pharmacy operations, the Grand Blanc, Mich.-based health system announced Jan. 19.

In 2018, the DEA disocvered irregularities at the McLaren Port Huron retail pharmacy. The discovery prompted an investigation, as well as the termination of a pharmacist who had been diverting opioids for his own use. 

The investigation revealed irregularities concerning the distribution, dispensing and recordkeeping of controlled substances at McLaren pharmacies. These irregularities were especially present in McLaren retail pharmacies that operated under legacy protocols that had been in place before McLaren's acquisition of the pharmacies.

McLaren exited the retail pharmacy business altogether in 2018, a move the health system says was unrelated to the DEA investigations.

The health system will pay the DEA $7.75 million, the largest settlement sum for drug diversion allegations in the country's history, according to The Detroit News.

Under the terms of its agreement with the DEA, McLaren will also establish a controlled substance oversight committee to design a systemwide drug diversion policy, deploy task forces to monitor compliance with drug protocols, institute compulsory training for 10,000 employees who have consistent access to controlled substances and continue using an outside pharmacy management company to manage its inpatient pharmacies.

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