DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Cardinal Health Inc. said Friday that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has suspended its license to sell drugs from a Florida distribution center, and the company plans to fight the action.
Cardinal Health said it will ask a federal court to block the DEA's effort, which the company called a "drastic overreaction."
The DEA did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The DEA told Cardinal Friday that the agency believes four of Cardinal Health's retail pharmacy customers improperly dispensed drugs based on prescriptions that did not have a real medical purpose, according to Cardinal Health.
Cardinal Health said the license suspension could disrupt drug shipments to more than 2,500 pharmacies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
"We strongly disagree with the allegations the DEA has made against our Lakeland facility and intend to vigorously challenge this action," Cardinal Health CEO George Barrett said in a statement.
Cardinal Health has faced similar charges before.
In 2008, Cardinal Health paid $34 million to settle claims that it failed to report suspicious sales of controlled substances. The company reached the settlement with seven U.S. Attorney's Offices and the Drug Enforcement Agency for and paid the civil penalty for allegedly violating its obligations under the Controlled Substances Act.
In that case, federal regulators said despite earlier warnings, Cardinal failed to report to the DEA suspicious orders of the painkiller hydrocodone, best known under the brand name Vicodin. It then distributed the drug to pharmacies that filled illegitimate prescriptions from rogue Internet pharmacies.
Cardinal Health said at the time that the settlement resulted in the reinstatement of licenses for three distribution centers, including the Lakeland, Fla. location. The company did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Shares of Cardinal Health fell 52 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $41.70 in midday trading.