Last updated: February 20. 2013 1:21AM - 1740 Views

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HANOVER TWP. – The Pennsylvania Department of State has ordered CVS Caremark to pay a $40,000 civil penalty because it dispensed medications to patients without refills remaining.

According to a consent agreement and order, Christine Renfer, the pharmacist in charge for CVS Caremark Mail Order Pharmacy, voluntarily disclosed the discovery of a computer glitch that caused certain medications to be prematurely dispensed.

Renfer's letter to the State Department's Board of Pharmacy promised CVS Caremark's full cooperation in the resolution of the matter at the Hanover Crossing Business Park facility.

The consent agreement quotes Renfer's letter: Prescriptions for maintenance medications were inadvertently dispensed from the Wilkes-Barre Mail Order Pharmacy without refills remaining. In addition, some prescriptions were dispensed prior to standard drug utilization review.

Drug utilization reviews involve a comprehensive review of patients' prescription and medication data before, during and after dispensing to ensure safety.

The consent agreement notes the patients expected these prescriptions to be filled, since each patient had made that request.

The report states no patient safety issues were identified.

Christine K. Cramer, CVS Caremark's director of public relations in Rhode Island, said the penalty is related to a systems issue in 2010.

Once we had identified the systems issue, back in 2010, we had immediately addressed it and took steps to confirm as appropriate that prescribing physicians wanted their patients to continue on their medications, Cramer said. We also reached out to regulatory authorities, including the Board of Pharmacy, as appropriate. No patient safety or clinical issues had resulted from this systems issue.

The Hanover Township facility employs about 600 people as pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and customer service representatives or in accounts receivable, inventory/material handling and clerical and management positions.

In 2008, the CVS pharmacy chain merged with Caremark, a leading pharmaceutical services company.

The Department of State said this week it took disciplinary actions against 130 licensed or commissioned professionals and organizations in December.

The department advises that anyone who suspects unlicensed activity by an individual or facility, or who has been a victim of unethical treatment, can file a complaint either online or through the bureau's hotline at 1-800-822-2113.

The bureau's 29 boards and commissions license and oversee more than 900,000 active professionals and businesses, including a range of occupations in health- and business-related fields.

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