A pharmacy that discovered back in July that one of its employees had been pilfering highly-addictive narcotics from its supply is getting an extra-close look by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Ripon CVS store – which opened in place of the longstanding Longs Drugs store after a buyout several years ago – was shaken back in July when one of its pharmacy technicians, Michael Silva, was arrested for embezzlement and burglary charges after an internal company investigation determined that he had swiped nearly 21,000 hydrocodone pills during his tenure.
He later admitted to the theft in a signed warrant.
Last week U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Delaney signed an inspection warrant that will allow DEA agents to search through the Ripon pharmacy’s records in the wake of that and other high-profile pill thefts that have taken place at CVS locations throughout Northern California.
Hydrocodone, the chemical name, is known to the general public by the trade name Vicodin – a commonly prescribed opiate painkiller used for everything from post-surgery pain to chronic arthritis.
But because the pills also carry a high risk of dependency when used over a long period of time, the DEA took the proactive step of moving them up a rung on the scheduling ladder. That put Vicodin with much more powerful and potent painkillers that require extra checks and balances and are more closely monitored by the administration. Now if a patient wants to get their prescription refilled they either need to have a triplicate copy to carry in to the pharmacy – requiring a doctor’s visit – or an authorized electronic submission from an authorized medical office.
Those new laws go into effect on Oct. 6. And it is expected to affect a lot of people.
Hydrocodone is the top controlled substance dispensed to California residents, and pharmacies like Walgreens have already started posting notices at its counters to let customers know of the upcoming change in the way that their medication will be processed and handled.
In a press release CVS said that they are fully committed to working with regulators and law enforcement to quell any problems.
“After conducting an internal investigation at our Ripon facility in July, we contacted local police with our findings and a former employee was subsequently arrested,” CVS public relations director Mike DeAngelis wrote. “We are fully cooperating with the DEA’s follow-up investigation and remain committed to working with regulators and enforcement agencies to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion.”