Bloomberg News

Cardinal Health Drug Shipments in Florida Blocked by Court

March 16, 2012

Cardinal Health Inc. (CAH) must stop distributing controlled substances from its Lakeland, Florida, center as an appeals court weighs the legality of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration order blocking the shipments.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today rejected Cardinal Health’s request to put on hold a lower court’s Feb. 29 decision upholding the DEA suspension.

Cardinal Health “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for an injunction pending court review,” the three judge panel ruled.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton on Feb. 29 said that the government sufficiently proved that the distribution facility posed a public safety threat by shipping heavy volumes of the prescription painkiller oxycodone to pharmacies, including two owned by a unit of CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS)

Debbie Mitchell, a Cardinal Health spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail message seeking comment on the ruling.

Walton, on March 14, ordered two CVS stores in Sanford, Florida, to stop filling prescriptions of controlled substances during the DEA investigation. He said the DEA produced enough information to show that pharmacists at the stores filled prescriptions for the painkiller oxycodone that they knew or should have known would lead to the drug being diverted for illegal uses.

CVS Appeal

CVS appealed that ruling and Walton’s order was temporarily placed on hold.

The three judges in today’s ruling on Cardinal Health -- U.S. Circuit Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, David Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown -- are the same ones considering the CVS appeal.

The DEA suspended the licenses of the pharmacies and a Florida distribution facility owned by Cardinal Health Inc. on Feb. 2 after determining that continued operations posed an imminent danger to the public, according to court filings.

The cases are Cardinal Health v. U.S. Department of Justice, 12-05061, and Holiday CVS LLC v. Holder, 12-05072, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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