The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will pay a $95,520 fine to the U.S. government after 2,500 oxycodone pills went missing at the tribal pharmacy in St. Ignatius.
In a written release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said the civil settlement also includes a list of steps the pharmacy will take to ensure future compliance with federal law and Drug Enforcement Administration regulations.
Aune also put all other Montana pharmacies on notice that enforcement of opioid tracking and safety regulations will be strict, with a strong DEA presence.
The DEA inspected the St. Ignatius pharmacy and its records for March 2017 to March 2018 after learning that the oxycodone pills had been stolen or were otherwise unaccounted for.
“During the investigation, the DEA discovered significant violations of the regulations, including failing to adequately track records of the controlled substances in the pharmacy and failing to report the missing oxycodone pills to the DEA,” Aune reported.
As part of the settlement, the pharmacy must conduct annual evaluations of its compliance for three years and certify to the DEA that it is meeting all regulatory requirements.
If there are future violations, Aune said, the pharmacy will be assessed the full potential penalty of $240,640.
“This settlement is an important step toward ensuring that opioids are properly controlled in the CSKT Pharmacy,” Alme said in a written statement. “For the safety of the community, we need to ensure that the pharmacy is managed responsibly in the future. The penalty puts every pharmacy in Montana on notice that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DEA will vigorously enforce controlled substance regulations to prevent diversion of the prescription opioids that are harming our communities.”
“We appreciate the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes taking this issue seriously. It is our hope that this settlement and the tribe’s plan to bring the pharmacy into compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations requirements will prevent future diversion of controlled substances,” said Stacy Zinn-Brittain, DEA regional agent in charge for Montana.