CVS settles cold medicine lawsuit

Accused of not doing enough to prevent people from buying cold medicines to make the drug methamphetamine, CVS/Pharmacy will pay $75 million to settle a federal case, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The case argued that CVS did not properly safeguard cold medicine with pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in over-the-counter medications such as Sudafed and Claritan, as a nasal congestant.

“This case shows what happens when companies fail to follow their ethical and legal responsibilities,” said U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. in a statement. “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.”

Federal prosecutors brought the case against the giant drugstore chain, accusing the stores of fueling meth trade in California and other states. The prosecutors said CVS violated the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which limits cold medicine purchases.

“We are announcing today that we have resolved this issue, which unfortunately resulted from a breakdown in CVS/pharmacy’s normally high management and oversight standards,” Thomas M. Ryan, chairman and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. “While this lapse occurred in 2007 and 2008 and has been addressed, it was an unacceptable breach of the company’s policies and was totally inconsistent with our values. CVS/pharmacy is unwavering in its support of the measures taken by the federal government and the states to prevent drug abuse.”