Thursday, June 11, 2009
Brown Settles Dispute With CVS Drug Store Chain
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorney General Jerry Brown said yesterday had has reached a settlement with CVS Pharmacy that will provide customers with a $2 coupon if they find items on the store’s shelves past their sell-by date.
The settlement came after an investigation by Brown’s office last year found that CVS stores in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties had regularly sold expired products including baby food, infant formula, over-the-counter medications and dairy products to consumers.
The investigation also found that five CVS pharmacies had improperly discarded in dumpsters outside its stores more than 500 documents and prescription bottles containing confidential information including patient names, addresses, birth dates and medications.
A civil suit and a stipulated judgment were filed yesterday in San Diego Superior Court, Brown’s office announced in a release. The suit charged CVS with violations of Business and Professions Code 17200 and Civil Code 1798.81.
The stipulated judgment resolves the suit and requires CVS to take specific actions to insure expired items are not sold in its stores and customer records are safeguarded. CVS agreed to pay $975,000 in civil penalties, costs and attorney fees, Brown said.
The settlement also applies to Longs Drug Stores California, which was purchased by CVS late last year. CVS, in entering the settlement, denied any wrongdoing, but the attorney general differed.
“CVS Pharmacy routinely sold expired baby formula, over-the-counter medication and dairy products long after the expiration date,” Brown said. “This agreement forces the company to give customers a $2 coupon if they find expired products in CVS or Longs Drug Stores.”
The attorney general’s office said that among the expired products discovered in the March 2008 investigation were Gerbers Vanilla Custard, 11 months expired, at a store in Huntington Beach; Bright Beginnings Ultra Baby Formula, three months expired, at a Fullerton store; and Bonine for Kids, a children’s motion sickness medication, five months expired at a Buena Park store.
Under terms of the settlement, CVS and Longs Drug Stores in California agreed to stop the sale of expired products and implement a program entitling customers who find an expired item on store shelves to a coupon worth $2 on any future purchase in California. Employees will be required to check at least twice a month that sell-by dates have not passed on infant formula, baby food, eggs, dairy products and over-the-counter medications.
CVS and Long’s agreed to revise policies on disposal of confidential waste to provide for shredding of materials and written certification of proper disposal.
Under the settlement, CVS is required to review the updated policies once a year and provide written training on the new policies to employees. Random audits are required in California stores twice a year until the audits confirm that the policies on expired products and disposal of records have been met for two consecutive years.
CVS agreed to establish a toll-free number for use by employees and customers to report expired products. Reports to corporate headquarters on such calls are required at least twice a month.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company