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California authorities are seeking to revoke a license held by a CVS Health mail-order pharmacy unit for violating several state laws that govern shipments of various controlled substances — including prescription painkillers and ADHD medicines — directly to patients.

In its complaint, the California Board of Pharmacy alleged that CVS Caremark — which runs a pharmacy benefit manager and a mail-order service — ignored several red flags that should have given the company “reason to know or suspect that numerous controlled substances… were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose” from July 2018 through July 2021. The drugs included the Xanax anxiety pill, the Adderall and Ritalin pills for treating ADHD, and opioid painkillers such as Dilaudid and Percocet.


Among the telltale signs of problems were records indicating the mail-order unit shipped more than 2,100 prescriptions too early to patients. Typically, pharmacies will not fill a new prescription until only a small amount of a previously dispensed supply remains. But CVS shipped “excessive doses” too soon. “Early dispensing of controlled substances provides patients with excessive drugs that can endanger patients’ health by increasing the risks of adverse effects or overdose,” the board wrote.

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