Drugstore Sued Over Expired Products

CVS Caremark Corporation has been sued by the State of New York over sales of expired products, reports Bloomberg News.  The announcement was made on the same day that New York also announced settlement of claims against Rite Aid Corporation totaling about $1.3 million, Bloomberg News add.

Officials with New York state accused CVS of selling products with expiration dates going back two years following a state investigation in which expired products were found at the majority—60 percent—of New York CVS stores and 43 percent of Rite Aid stores, said Bloomberg News.  New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that, “In today’s difficult economic times, consumers should not be spending their hard-earned money on expired products that may be harmful to themselves or their children,” according to Bloomberg News.  In the lawsuit against CVS, Cuomo said that in selling expired products, CVS was in violation of New York’s Executive Law, New York’s General Business Law, and federal and local laws.

Meanwhile, a study recently conducted by the group Change to Win found that CVS’s expired goods problems and poor health inspections went beyond New York state, noting that Cuomo filed suit against the drugstore chain after learning expired products remained on CVS shelves nearly six months after the Attorney General first threatened action.  Change to Win pointed out that CVS was found to be selling expired medicines, infant formula, milk, and eggs and that Cuomo’s findings came at the same time that Change to Win’s study of CVS stores in 10 markets nationwide was released.  Said Change to Win, CVS’s ongoing practice of selling expired products violates the retailer’s 2003 agreement with Cuomo to not sell expired nonprescription medicines.  In the 2003 investigation, notes Bloomberg News, CVS was found to have been selling over-the-counter (OTC) medications after their expiration dates; at that time, CVS also agreed to put in place safeguards to ensure the practice did not occur in the future.

Bloomberg News said that according to the petition, New York is looking for CVS to now comply with the following:  To retain an independent monitor for monthly checks, post signs for consumers advising them that they are entitled to receive refunds for expired products, post signs indicating consumer health risks associated with expired products, and pay a $500 civil penalty for each violation of general business law.  Meanwhile, in June, California Attorney General Jerry Brown also accused CVS of selling expired baby food and OTC drugs, said Bloomberg News, adding that according to Cuomo’s suit, Pennsylvania’s Fairfield Department of Health in Pennsylvania discovered 100 expired baby food items at six CVS stores.  “The widespread nature of these violations indicates that CVS has not taken seriously its legal obligations or its responsibilities to its consumers vis-à-vis the sale of expired products,” New York officials said in the complaint, according to Bloomberg News.

Rite-Aid agreed to conduct weekly inspections of its New York stores and will immediately pay a $1 million civil penalty and as much as $300,000 more if it fails to comply with the agreement during the next three years, noted Cuomo said Bloomberg News.

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