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CVS Controlled-Drug Suspension Put on Hold by Appeals Court

The suspension of two CVS Caremark Corp. pharmacies from selling controlled substances, ordered by the Drug Enforcement Administration after a probe of oxycodone sales in Florida, was put on hold by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today ruled that CVS may continue filling prescriptions for controlled substances at the two stores in Sanford, Florida, while it considers a challenge to the DEA suspension orders.

“The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the emergency motion for stay pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,” U.S. Circuit Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, David Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown, said in the ruling. They ordered the U.S. to respond by March 19.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton yesterday 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.

Carolyn Castel, a CVS spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the company was pleased with the ruling “enabling us to continue to serve patients who depend on us for their care.” She said CVS is “fully supportive of measures taken by law enforcement to reduce prescription drug abuse.”

Dawn Dearden, a DEA spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Holiday CVS LLC v. Holder, 12-05072, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).

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