Michigan based McLaren Health Care has been negotiating with federal drug agents for a while. The agents developed information that the health care system had been allowing opioids and other drugs to be sold to people who had no prescriptions. The practice was given the fancy description of  “drug diversion”.

The huge health care system with more than a dozen hospitals in Michigan and Ohio is now agreeing to a financial settlement with the government to put enforcement action behind it. The price tag is a whopping  $7.75 million.  Federal drug agents say it is the largest settlement of its type in U.S. history.

The government’s investigation focused primarily on McLaren operated pharmacies at its hospitals. The Detroit News reports the activities at McLaren’s pharmacies were found to be in violation of the country’s drug control laws by illegally allowing opioids, in particular, to get into the hands of people who shouldn’t have had the access.

The agreement to pay the penalties settles an investigation by federal agents that has spanned several years. Central to the government’s findings are the discoveries that McLaren pharmacists were actually handing out opioids and other drugs to people who had no valid prescriptions.

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McLaren executives are now entering into a multi-year agreement to clean up the healthcare giant’s drug handling policies and specifically train pharmacists regarding drug diversion practices. U.S Attorney Michael Schneider In Detroit is publicly weighing in on the case saying, “McLaren clearly didn’t have a sufficient system in place to catch these problems. But now, under this settlement, McLaren is stepping up and implementing more robust compliance measures. At nearly $7.8 million, this is the largest civil Controlled Substances Act settlement in American history involving a health care system whose internal practices were so deficient that it allowed the diversion of drugs, including opioids."

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