Appeals court lifts stay; suspension of Cardinal's Fla. distribution center license reinstated


WASHINGTON — Cardinal Health's appeal to delay a Drug Enforcement Agency suspension of its license to distribute controlled substances out of its Lakeland, Fla., distribution center was denied Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The ruling lifts a previously granted emergency stay issued by the appellate court earlier this month.

Consequently, Cardinal may not distribute controlled substances out of its Florida distribution center while it appeals the DEA ruling. The wholesaler stated it would continue to meet its customer needs out of other distribution centers, according to reports. Cardinal will resume its appeal of that ruling April 25 with an appellant's brief scheduled before the U.S. appeals court. The DEA will be heard May 25.

The DEA alleges that 4-of-the-2,500 retail pharmacies served by the Florida distribution center serves had illegally dispensed prescriptions for controlled substances and that Cardinal had failed to ensure that the drugs were not diverted.

Separately, an administrative hearing on Cardinal's Lakeland, Fla., license is scheduled to begin at the DEA April 3, according to published reports. That process could take more than a year, however.

The D.C. appeals court also denied a motion from the Healthcare Distribution Management Association to file an amicus curiae brief in support of Cardinal Health, according to court records, stating that "neither the federal nor the D.C. circuit rules provide for amici to file or respond to motions."


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