SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Federal narcotics agents discovered last year that a Costco pharmacy in West Sacramento was consistently purchasing more of the painkiller hydrocodone than any other pharmacy in California.
Now, as an offshoot of that finding, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is inspecting the records and premises of other Northern California pharmacies in the Costco chain whose hydrocodone prescriptions are filled by the West Sacramento pharmacy.
Costco Wholesale Corp. is based in Issaquah, Wash., near Seattle.
Federal warrants were issued a week ago clearing the way for DEA agents to conduct administrative inspections and audits of Costco pharmacies in Sacramento, Roseville, Fairfield and Manteca.
Affidavits supporting the agency’s applications for the warrants say the West Sacramento pharmacy is “the highest purchaser (dosage units) for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 in the state of California.”
Based on that information and the fact the four other pharmacies have never been inspected by the DEA, “Investigators believe there will be numerous record keeping violations related to the receipt of controlled substances” found at the four locations, according to the affidavits, signed by Mark Jackson, a DEA diversion investigator in Sacramento.
John Sullivan, Costco’s corporate counsel, said in an email that the company supports the DEA’s efforts to address “the public health problem of the diversion of prescription drugs.” Costco has cooperated with the agency in those efforts, he said, “and will continue to do so.”
The company will likewise “continue to seek to maintain procedures to ensure that controlled substances are accounted for and dispensed properly,” Sullivan said.