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San Diego - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today forged a settlement with CVS Pharmacy requiring the company to make sure expired products are not sold in its stores and provide customers a $2 coupon if they identify products past their sell-by date.
The settlement also applies to Longs Drug Stores California, which CVS purchased in late 2008.
“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 dollar coupon if they find expired products in CVS or Longs Drug Stores.”
In March 2008, Brown launched an investigation which revealed that CVS Stores in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties had regularly sold expired baby food, baby formula, over-the-counter medications and dairy products to consumers. Expired products found include:
• Gerber’s Vanilla Custard, 11 months expired, at a Huntington Beach store.
• Bright Beginnings Ultra Baby Formula 31.7 oz., 3 months expired, at a Fullerton store.
• Bonine for Kids (children’s motion sickness medication), 5 months expired, at a Buena Park store.
• Gerber Baby Food Oatmeal with Applesauce and Bananas, 2 months expired, at an El Cajon store.
The investigation also confirmed that five CVS Pharmacies had improperly discarded more than 500 documents and prescription bottles containing confidential medical information in dumpsters outside of its stores. This discarded information included patient names, addresses, birthdates and prescription medications.
In June 2008, Brown called on CVS Pharmacy to immediately end the sale of expired products and mishandling of confidential customer information across all CVS Pharmacy stores.
Brown today filed a civil suit and a stipulated judgment in San Diego County Superior Court.
The suit contends that CVS Pharmacy violated Business and Professions Code 17200 and Civil Code 1798.81, by misleading customers about CVS’ standards to insure that products would not be sold after the expiration of the “sell buy” or “best by” date and by failing to preserve the confidentiality of customers’ personal medical records. In entering into the settlement, CVS denied any wrong-doing.
The stipulated judgment resolves the suit and forces CVS to:
• Stop the sale of expired products in CVS Pharmacy and Longs Drug stores in California;
• Implement a first-of-its-kind coupon program whereby consumers who find an expired item on store shelves are entitled to a coupon worth $2.00 which can be used in any future purchase at a CVS Store in California for any product;
• Revise existing policies regarding the sale of expired products and require employees 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;
• Revise existing policies regarding the disposal of confidential waste so that they include proper shredding policies and require written certification that all records containing personal information have been properly disposed of;
• Review and revise these updated policies annually and provide employees with written training in these new policies;
• Provide the Attorney General’s Office with sworn statements certifying that it has complied with all aspects of the Judgment;
• Perform random audits in its California stores twice a year to make certain that expired products aren’t being sold and that confidential medical information is safeguarded and disposed of properly: if CVS fails to meet these new conditions, audits will continue until these new requirements are met for two consecutive years; and
• Designate a toll-free number for employees and customers to report expired products and each store must submit reports to its corporate headquarters regarding these incidents at least twice a month.
CVS will pay $975,000 in civil penalties, attorney fees and costs.
A copy of the complaint and stipulated judgment are attached.