Vincent Moellering heard a rumor in April 2009 that a local pharmacy was selling the powerful and addictive painkiller oxycodone by the pill for cash. So Moellering, an investigator for Cardinal Health, one of the nation’s largest distributors of pharmaceuticals, visited Gulf Coast Medical Pharmacy in Fort Myers, Fla.
Over the next two years, Moellering and other Cardinal employees visited that pharmacy at least four more times. Each time, they noted disturbing signs: Customers paid cash, oxycodone was the No. 1 seller, and young people came in groups to have their prescriptions filled.
On Oct. 5, 2010, Moellering’s fourth visit, pharmacy owner Jeffrey Green told him he wanted more oxycodone. The store had dispensed 462,776 pills over two months — nearly seven times what the average pharmacy dispenses in a year. Convinced something was off, Moellering asked Cardinal’s permission to contact the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to documents filed in federal court.
The DEA says the call never came. Cardinal would not make Moellering available for comment and declined to explain why he never made the call. Cardinal granted Green’s request for more oxycodone but stopped serving the pharmacy a year later.
This month, the DEA accused Cardinal Health, a Fortune 500 company with $103 billion in revenue, of endangering the public by selling excessive amounts of oxycodone to four Florida pharmacies. The charges came in an immediate suspension order served Feb. 3 when the agency suspended Cardinal’s license to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland, Fla., hub, which serves four states.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
DEA takes aim at painkiller black market | Daily Record