The Wall Street Journal reports that the DEA has revoked controlled-medication licenses of two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Florida. The stores, says the DEA, sold approximately three million pills of oxycodone in 2011. In the small town of Sanford, that’s 60 pills per person—man, woman, and child. Moreover, it’s not just the sheer volume of sales that tipped off the DEA. A Shocking 58% of oxycodone prescriptions were paid for in cash (8 times the national average for all prescriptions) and the startling numbers represent an increase in oxycodone sales of 900%.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke
There is no allegation that CVS sold the highly addictive, highly dangerous synthetic narcotic to patients without prescriptions. Rather, we are confronted with the obvious fact that one of the nation’s largest pharmacies simply turned a blind eye to misconduct and prescription drug abuse. This action could be forgiven if maybe these stores had sold twice the national average or perhaps had steady sales. Or if it had been ten times the national average for the sale of Listerine, cotton balls, or heck, Pepto Bismol.
But oxycodone? “For crying out loud.” If nothing else this highly dangerous drug should be monitored. Come on now—CVS monitors the sale of everything. (“Do you have your card today sir?”) The sale of this controlled substance at this alarming rate had to catch the attention of someone. Inexplicably, they did nothing. The only plausible conclusion: the company was content acting as a drug peddler regardless of the consequences.
We’ve seen action like this before. Major banks do it every day—well trained bankers fail to report accounts that just scream, “PONZI SCHEME!” The corporate culture—with its sole focus on return for investors and shareholders—has pushed moral (and often legal) obligations to the back burner. Today’s news of CVS’s inaction in the face of an obvious drug ring, peddling the most dangerous drugs in the market, is deplorable, both for its brazen nature, but also because it is not uncommon. Corporate culture in this country has got to change. It is patently unacceptable to allow criminal activity, wrongs like bank fraud and drug dealing that destroy the economy, to be swept under the rug—because your regional sales manager implores “increased sales at any cost.”
Corporations with the tools and whereabouts to detect the movements of America’s seedy underbelly should be encouraged to speak up and do what’s right. Surely that would be better than making a quick buck while we wait for an overworked and underpaid DEA to save the day.