DENVER -- King Soopers here has agreed to pay $7 million to settle claims by the U.S. Attorney for Colorado relating to the chain's pharmacy practices.
During audits of seven King Soopers pharmacies in April 2004, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency found that theft-prevention systems and inventory controls for some drugs were inadequate and that King Soopers was not consistently meeting all government-reporting requirements of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.
The audits also reported that a few King Soopers pharmacy employees had taken advantage of internal systems and some prescription medications were stolen. "About 12 employees were involved, and all have been disciplined to appropriate degrees, from reprimands all the way up to termination," Gary Rhodes, a spokesman for King Soopers parent Kroger Co., Cincinnati, told SN.
Kroger also agreed to make an additional $3 million payment if King Soopers and Kroger fail to comply with a comprehensive regulatory plan that the retailer submitted to the Department of Justice as part of the settlement.
"We are employing a combination of new technology and improved and more extensive training to ensure compliance," Rhodes said. "That $3 million will only be paid if there are violations of our regulatory plan in the future."
Following the audits, King Soopers hired pharmacy compliance specialist Ron Buzzeo, chief regulatory officer of BuzzeoPDMA, a compliance consultancy based in Richmond, Va., to "overhaul our pharmacy systems and retrain personnel," Rhodes said.
Examples of new best practices that are being implemented across King Soopers stores include: extensive compliance procedures; an increased number of audits; more restricted access to controlled drugs; and greater monitoring and supervision of record keeping and inventory management at the store and division level, according to Rhodes.