Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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CVS Settlement

Alameda County D.A. Settles Civil Lawsuit Ensuring CVS Stores Consult With All Consumers of Prescription Drugs

Oakland, California – Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced today that the Office’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Division, along with Riverside and San Diego District Attorneys’ Offices and the California State Board of Pharmacy, has settled a $658,500 lawsuit against the owners, Garfield Beach CVS, LLC, and Longs Drugs Stores, California, LLC, of 850 California CVS-branded pharmacies for failing to conduct one-on-one pharmacy consultations when customers receive new prescriptions drugs.

The civil complaint, filed in San Diego Superior Court, alleges that California CVS pharmacists frequently failed to follow Board regulations requiring personal pharmacist consultations to inform prescription drug customers proper and improper uses of medications to a patient who receives prescriptions not previously dispensed to that patient, or a prescription drug in a different dosage, form, or strength, or on the patient’s request.

Misuse of prescription drugs harms an estimated 150,000 Californians each year and contributes to an estimated $1.7 billion in economic losses throughout the state.

In 2011, the California State Board of Pharmacy conducted an undercover investigation from March 2008 to September 2012 and issued 22 citations to CVS that violated the consultation requirement. Subsequently, through 2011 to 2012, the three D.A.’s Offices found sufficient evidence from copies of the 22 citations to begin a secondary undercover investigation. The investigation revealed CVS pharmacies offered consultations by un-trained personnel or did not provide the required consultations at all. Nine of the 25 undercover transactions (36%) at CVS pharmacies in San Diego, Riverside, and Alameda counties revealed failures to properly provide the required consultations.

Under the terms of the final judgment, which was entered without admission of liability, CVS is permanently enjoined to comply properly with California’s standards for patient consultations, and must fully implement an internal compliance program that CVS began once it learned of the prosecutors’ concerns. The CVS entities also agreed to pay agency investigative costs of $97,500 and civil penalties totaling $561,000. (Alameda County DA will receive one-third, or $187,000, of those civil penalties and $19,166 of the costs.) CVS worked cooperatively with the prosecutors to promptly resolve the matter and to implement the new compliance procedures.

“The collaboration of the many D.A. Offices involved resulted in today’s settlement,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley. “Prescription drugs are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse, which can lead to addiction, accidental poisoning, or other grave consequences. My Office remains dedicated to fighting against the misuse of prescription drugs and to ensuring that the public has access to knowledge and education regarding the use of all prescription drugs.”

Contact: DDA Tony Douglas
Alameda County District Attorney’s Office
Consumer & Environmental Protection
Tony.Douglas@acgov.org
(510) 383-8600

Posted on Dec 23, 2013