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Brown Calls On CVS Pharmacy To End Expired Product Sales, Protect Confidential Information

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today called upon CVS Pharmacy to immediately stop selling expired products, including baby food and over-the-counter medications, which were discovered during recent undercover shopping investigation in Southern California. The attorney general also asked the CVS to comply with California laws requiring proper storage and disposal consumer’s confidential medical and financial information.

“State investigators found that dozens of CVS pharmacies in Southern California have old and expired products, including medicines and baby food,” Attorney General Brown said. “CVS Pharmacy should immediately pull these expired products from its shelves and ensure that these consumer safety violations do not occur again,” Brown added.

During a recent undercover shopping operation, state investigators found 48 expired products on the shelves of 26 CVS Pharmacies in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties. Some of the expired products--which included baby formula, toddler food, and over-the-counter medications--were between four and six months old. Investigators also discovered expired food products including milk and eggs. Some of the products’ “sell by” dates were hidden with price tags or other store stickers.

Recent investigations by the New York Attorney General have also found that CVS Pharmacies in New York have engaged in similarly unlawful selling practices. In a letter sent today, Attorney General Brown asked CVS Pharmacy to change its sales practices to make certain that sales of expired product do not occur in the future.

The California Attorney General’s Office had launched its investigation into CVS Pharmacy sales practices in March, 2008 after receiving consumer reports about expired products on store shelves in Southern California.

Although California law does not explicitly prohibit the sale of certain expired products, federal laws require that products contain expiration dates. The attorney general asserts that placing expired items on its shelves violates false advertising and unfair business practices statues because CVS Pharmacy falsely implies that its products meet national quality control standards.

Attorney General Brown also asked CVS Pharmacy to disclose its formal policies regarding the collection, retention and destruction of such information to determine whether the company is complying with California law. The attorney general has reason to believe that the company may not have properly safeguarded or disposed of consumers’ private health and financial information, in violation of state consumer protection laws.

In February, 2008 Brown reached a settlement with The Walgreen Company after state investigators discovered that that company had failed to properly retain, safeguard and dispose of confidential customer information, in violation of California laws including California Civil Code section 1798.81 Under the terms of that settlement, Walgreens agreed to revise its disposal and retention policies, implement ongoing employee training, and annually review those policies.

In addition to the ceasing the sale of expired products, Attorney General Brown today asked CVS Pharmacy to quickly resolve its practice of not protecting private consumer information.

CVS Pharmacy, a division of CVS Caremark Corporation, is the largest retail pharmacy in the United States with more than 6,300 retail locations and approximately 300 stores in California, most in Southern California. The company is headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

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