Substance Abuse

Walgreens in Florida Searched by Drug Agents

Even the biggest drugstore chain in America did not escape the federal crackdown against prescription drug abuse. Six Walgreen stores and a distribution center in Florida were searched by drug agents, as federal authorities focus on prescription drug abuse as among the most serious medical issues in the country.

The Walgreen case involved an investigation into whether the drugstore chain allowed suspiciously high sales of pain medication, in an effort by the DEA to prevent such pain pills as oxycodone from making its way into the black market.

The search, which was carried out on Wednesday by the DEA, involved six Walgreen locations in southern and central Florida, and its distribution center in Jupiter, Florida.

Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger said that the company is “working with and cooperating with the DEA on this matter.”

During a search, DEA agents take business records, in order to determine what portion of customers pay for oxycodone with cash, among other things. According to the DEA, a high percentage of customers paying for prescription pain pills in cash, as opposed to insurance, is usually a sign that the drugs are being diverted into the black market.

John Ransom, managing director of health-care research at brokerage Raymond James, shared: “I think all these giant drug companies are ready, willing and able to play ball with the government. I think the problem is more that sometimes things break down at the bottom end of the organization.”

Walgreens has more than 8,000 locations in 50 states, and offers the most 24-hour and drive-through pharmacies.

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