Drug company to pay penalty

November 11, 1993|By Staff Report

A Columbia-based pharmaceutical firm has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $175,000 to the federal government to settle claims related to violations of drug laws, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office announced this week.

The settlement resolves civil, criminal and administrative actions against ASCO Healthcare resulting from a federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigation and audit of the company's management practices, authorities said.

The DEA's audit was prompted by ASCO's reports to county police of employee thefts of more than 21,000 dosage units of drugs, including the tranquilizers Xanax and Valium, in 1990 and 1991.

The audit revealed substantial discrepancies -- "both underages and overages" -- in drug inventories.

Investigators found that ASCO's management practices violated the federal Controlled Substance Act for, among other deficiencies, inadequate record-keeping and failure to maintain effective controls and procedures to guard against theft.

ASCO, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based Genesis Health Ventures, one of the nation's largest nursing home chains, was cited for the violations at an institutional retail pharmacy it operates in the 9500 block of Gerwig Lane in Columbia.

The pharmacy serves more than 120 institutions, including nursing and independent-living facilities, group homes and detention centers.

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