The Department of Justicehas accused Rite Aid of knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.
The whistleblower lawsuit was brought under the False Claims Act against the Rite Aid Corporation and various subsidiaries.
The DOJ said Rite Aid "knowingly filled at least hundreds of thousands of unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances that lacked a legitimate medical purpose, were not for a medically accepted indication, or were not issued in the usual course of professional practice."
The incidents occurred from 2014 through 2019, the DOJ alleged.
The unlawful prescriptions filled included opioids, such as oxycodone and fentanyl, the DOJ said.
It added that Rite Aid filled prescriptions despite obvious red flags, and ignored evidence from multiple sources its pharmacies were behaving illegally.
“We allege that Rite Aid filled hundreds of thousands of prescriptions that did not meet legal requirements,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “According to our complaint, Rite Aid’s pharmacists repeatedly filled prescriptions for controlled substances with obvious red flags, and Rite Aid intentionally deleted internal notes about suspicious prescribers. These practices opened the floodgates for millions of opioid pills and other controlled substances to flow illegally out of Rite Aid’s stores.”
Rite Aid has not issued a reaction to the DOJ's announcement.
Rite Aid operates more than 2,300 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states, making it one of the largest pharmacy chains in the U.S.