Prosecutors say the pharmacies face nearly 3,000 violations of the controlled substances act.
Officials say the painkillers include Vicodin and Norco. The Los Angeles Times reports thousands of pills may have been sold on the black market. Officials at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration say more than 37,000 pills were taken from CVS stores in Modesto, Fairfield, Dixon and Turlock.
ABC7 News has learned that this is not the first incident of theft. In 2012, CVS loss prevention caught a pharmacy tech at their Travis Boulevard location in Fairfield.
In that case, a pharmacist concealed a bottle of hydrocodone in her pants, was interviewed by CVS and admitted to stealing approximately 20,000 tablets of hydrocodone.
In some cases the drugs have gone missing because pharmacists self-medicate or lower-level pharmacy workers take the drugs and sell them to others.
We are committed to working with the DEA, other regulatory and enforcement agencies, as well as key stakeholders in the medical community, to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion. We are cooperating with the DEA in their review of pharmacy records at a few of our pharmacies in California to determine the reasons for the discrepancies in our record keeping and to correct them. As health care providers, our pharmacists and technicians remain focused on ensuring prescription drugs are only delivered to the patients who need them.
CVS Caremark takes very seriously the challenge of combating prescription drug abuse and diversion, and we recognize the important role our pharmacists and technicians play on the front lines of solving this problem. As a company, we are investing significantly in internal controls and processes aimed at preventing prescription drug diversion from our pharmacies. For example, we are enhancing internal audit procedures to detect diversion, developing electronic controlled substance ordering and receiving systems, and implementing new storage and control measures for hydrocodone products beyond regulatory requirements across all of our 7,600 stores.