ABINGDON, Virginia – Sovah Health has agreed to pay the United States $ 4.36 million to settle claims that the hospital system violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) repeatedly between 2017 and 2020. As part of the resolution, Sovah Health additionally agreed to be subject to a period of four years of enhanced compliance and supervision, during which any failure to comply with his duties could lead to contempt of court, which could lead to additional fines and damages. The agreement is the third largest civil sanction ever received by a hospital system under the Controlled Substances Act and the largest ever in the Fourth Round.
The allegations focus on Sovah Health’s failure to have effective controls to prevent the diversion of powerful prescription painkillers. Sovah Health is a regional health care system consisting of a hospital with two campuses, Danville and Martinsville. In 2017, Danville (formerly Danville Regional Medical Center) and Martinsville (formerly Martinsville Memorial Hospital and Henry County) merged to form Sovah Health.
From 2017 to 2019, an employee of Sovah Health diverted more than 11,000 controlled substances on Schedule II from Sovah Health. From January to May 2020, a second Sovah Health employee tampered with fentanyl vials and hydromorphone injections, replacing the controlled substance with saline and diverting the controlled substance. The United States claims that Sovah Health fails to provide effective controls and procedures to prevent diversion of controlled substances, executes controlled substance orders without a system for detecting suspicious controlled substance orders, and fails to maintain easily retrieved controlled substance records.
“As opioid overdose deaths skyrocket, it is crucial that healthcare companies are held accountable when they fail to effectively protect these powerful prescriptions at their facilities,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Cavanaugh told West Virginia County. . “The oversight provided by this resolution will ensure future compliance, including these important but potentially deadly substances, and the United States Attorney’s Office for West Virginia County will continue to vigorously pursue these cases with our federal and local partners to protect communities. of Virginia ”
“Today’s agreement sends a clear message to all registrants that it is essential to maintain effective controls to prevent diversion of controlled substances,” said Jarod Zabravia, the DEA’s special envoy to the Washington Department. “The DEA is committed to tackling the misuse of prescription drugs in Virginia and across the country and holding all DEA registrants accountable.
“The FDA monitors the supply of drugs in the United States to ensure that patients receive drugs that are safe and effective,” said Special Agent George A. Skavdis of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation, Metro Washington. “We will continue to protect public health by holding responsible healthcare companies that fail to protect their inventory from prescription drugs, thereby compromising the health and comfort of their patients.
“In deaths and opioid overdoses at record highs, especially in Southern Virginia, there must be zero tolerance for trusted health professionals who deal with drug diversion,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia Police Chief. . “For the safety and security of Virginia communities, our Virginia State Special Police Drug Enforcement Agents, in collaboration with our local and federal public safety partners, will continue to conduct aggressive investigations into the illicit distribution of fentanyl and others. prescription drugs.
The agreement that is available here, authorizes the potential civil and criminal liability of Sovah Health based on the investigation. As part of the resolution, Sovah Health is committed to additional compliance measures, including, but not limited to, the installation of cameras in all automated dosing machines to capture controlled substance placement / removal activities; timely reporting of losses and diversion of controlled substances; taking and reporting disciplinary action taken against officials found responsible for the theft, diversion or loss of controlled substances; maintaining a mandatory random drug testing program for employees; and conducting a full physical inventory of all federally planned II-V controlled substances more frequently than required by law.
Assistant Prosecutors Justin Lugar and Randy Ramsey represented the United States on the issue.
The investigation was conducted by the Food and Drug Administration – Criminal Investigation Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration – Roanoke Residential Diversion Unit and the Virginia State Police.