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CVS to pay $75M fine for selling meth component

Published October 14, 2010 5:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Los Angeles • CVS Pharmacy Inc. has agreed to pay $75 million in fines for allowing repeated purchases of a key ingredient in the making of methamphetamine in at least five states that also led to a spike in Southern California drug trafficking, authorities said Thursday.

The nation's largest operator of retail pharmacies will pay what federal prosecutors said is the largest civil penalty under the Controlled Substances Act. CVS also will forfeit about $2.6 million in profits earned from the sales of pseudoephedrine, which can often be found in cold medicine and is used to make meth. Authorities said CVS didn't provide enough safeguards to monitor how much pseudoephedrine someone was buying, and violated federal drug regulations in possibly more than 20 states.

"This case shows what happens when companies fail to follow their ethical and legal responsibilities," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "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."