Federal authorities called a $1.3 million settlement yesterday with Walgreen Corp. a major breakthrough in pushing retail pharmacies to keep a closer eye on the sale of over-the-counter medicines used to make illegal drugs, reports the Dallas Morning News. Matt Orwig, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, said the national chain agreed to accept civil responsibility for selling methamphetamine cooks and dealers large amounts of pseudoephedrine in northeast Texas stores.
The civil settlement came after a two-year investigation netted 25 criminal convictions of methamphetamine cooks and dealers, and shut down five meth labs. On Monday, a law goes into effect in Texas that limits over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine to 6 grams – or two packages. In May, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kmart Holding Corp., CVS Corp., Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreen announced that they would move medicines with pseudoephedrine behind counters. Authorities traced pseudoephedrine to a Walgreen’s pharmacy in Denton, Tx., after a September 2002 drug bust. Federal agents tracked a single-day sale at that pharmacy of 53,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine to one meth dealer in March 2002.