UPDATE 1-Walgreen in record $80 mln settlement over painkillers
* Walgreen cited over prescription painkiller distribution
* Regulator: Drugs were diverted to abusers, black market
June 11 (Reuters) - Walgreen Co, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, has agreed to pay a record $80 million in civil penalties to resolve allegations that it violated federal rules that govern how prescription painkillers are distributed.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday said the settlement is the largest in its history.
It accused Walgreen of committing an "unprecedented" number of record-keeping and dispensing violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
The DEA said these violations allowed drugs such as oxycodone, a narcotic, to be distributed to abusers and sold illegally on the black market.
"National pharmaceutical chains are not exempt from following the law," Mark Trouville, special agent in charge in the DEA's Miami field division, said in a statement. "All DEA registrants will be held accountable when they violate the law and threaten public health and safety."
Walgreen was not immediately available for comment.
As part of the settlement, Walgreen admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant.
Six Walgreen pharmacies in Florida and a distribution center in Jupiter, Florida were given a two-year ban from dispensing various controlled substances.
The Deerfield, Illinois-based company also agreed to enhance training and compliance programs, and set up a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to help prevent similar violations.
Florida, where the probe was centered, has long been considered a center of prescription drug abuse, and the DEA has dismantled dozens of sham clinics, known as "pill mills," where doctors have written prescriptions for drug dealers and addicts.
In afternoon trading, Walgreen shares were up 4 cents at $49.69 on the New York Stock Exchange.