CVS Pharmacy Inc., which operates the nation’s largest number of retail pharmacies, will pay more than $77 million to settle charges that it illegally sold pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine traffickers, reports the National Law Journal. Pseudoephedrine, found in over-the-counter cough and cold medications, is used in making methamphetamine. Said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles: “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.”
CVS, a subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corp., attributed the lapse to a “breakdown” in oversight that “was totally inconsistent with our values,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Ryan. Between September 2007 and November 2008, CVS supplied “large amounts of pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine traffickers in Southern California, and the company’s illegal sales led directly to an increase in methamphetamine production in California,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Similar violations occurred in 23 other states. The government will not pursue criminal charges against CVS, which will implement a compliance and ethics program.