(LOS ANGELES) -- In an agreement finalized late Wednesday, CVS Pharmacy, Inc., the biggest operator of retail pharmacies in the United States, admitted it unlawfully sold pseudoephedrine to criminals who made methamphetamine. As part of the agreement with federal prosecutors, CVS agreed to pay $75 million in civil penalties and to forfeit the $2.6 million in profits the company earned as a result of the illegal conduct.
CVS Pharmacy, a subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation, failed to ensure compliance with laws limiting sales of pseudoephedrine, which allowed criminals to obtain a key ingredient used in the manufacture of methamphetamine from CVS stores located primarily in Los Angeles County; Orange County, California; and Clark County, Nevada. 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. CVS eventually changed its sales practices to prevent these illegal sales, but it did so only after it became aware of the government’s investigation.
The $75 million portion of the settlement represents the largest civil penalty ever paid under the Controlled Substances Act.
“This case shows what happens when companies fail to follow their ethical and legal responsibilities,” said United States Attorney André 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.”
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