Thursday, October 14, 2010

LA Times-CVS Fined $75 Million For Aiding Crystal Meth Production

photo credit: LA Times
(Story reported by Andrew Blankstein for the LA Times)

CVS/Pharmacy will pay a record $75 million to settle a case brought by federal prosecutors accusing the drugstore giant of not doing enough to safeguard the sale of cold medicines used to produce methamphetamine.

According to prosecutors, CVS failed to properly regulate the sales of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used in the making of methamphetamine. Prosecutors alleged this oversight helped to fuel the meth trade in California and other states.

The settlement involved California and several states.

In a statement, the U.S. attorney's office described the case as the largest civil penalty ever paid under the controlled substances case.

“This case shows what happens when companies fail to follow their ethical and legal responsibilities,” said U.S. Atty. AndrĂ© Birotte Jr. in a statement. “CVS knew it had a duty to prevent methamphetamine trafficking, but it failed to take steps to control the sale of a regulated drug used by methamphetamine cooks as an essential ingredient for their poisonous stew.”

Authorities claim they found "thousands of violations of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which, among other things, limits the amount of pseudoephedrine that a customer can purchase in one day."

The alleged violations were found in L.A. County, Orange County and Clark County, Nev.

“This historic settlement underscores DEA’s commitment to protect the public’s health and safety against the scourge of methamphetamine,” said Michele M. Leonhart, the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in the statement. “CVS’s flagrant violation of the law resulted in the company becoming a direct link in the methamphetamine supply chain. DEA will continue to work with its state and local counterparts to disrupt the supply of methamphetamine, including inhibiting access to chemicals, such as pseudoephedrine, used to produce methamphetamine.”

In a statement, CVS apologized for the lapse.

(Click here to read the full story on the LA Times website.)

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