CVS to pay $875,000 to settle allegations the chain was selling expired products

Pharmacy giant CVS has agreed to pay $875,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of New York that alleged the chain routinely sold expired food, drugs and other outdated products, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.

California settled a similar case with CVS five months ago.

"New Yorkers should not have to worry that their neighborhood pharmacy is selling expired over-the-counter drugs that may be harmful to themselves or their families," Cuomo said in a written statement. "Today's settlement with CVS and our past settlement with Rite Aid - which total approximately $2 million --send the message that companies have a responsibility to put the safety of their customers ahead of boosting their profits."
Undercover investigators went into major chain drug stores around New York to see how widespread was the pattern of selling expired products. New York officials said they found that 142 CVS and 112 Rite Aid stores were selling expired items -- 60 percent of the CVS stores visited and 43 percent of the Rite Aids. Some products were more than two years past expiration.

Cuomo's office said later visits by investigators found the two chains continued to sell expired products even after the attorney general's office announced its findings. Rite Aid settled with New York for $1.3 million in December 2008.

In agreeing the $875,000 settlement, in which CVS admitted no wrongdoing, the company committed to stop selling expired products by keeping in place "specific policies and procedures designed to prevent the sale of expired products."

Stores will be checked periodically and are subject to a $2,500 penalty per store if the store flunks inspection.The chain must also post notices letting consumers know they should check the dates on packages, particularly when buying dairy products, infant formula and over-the-counter drugs.

CVS sent the following statement to WalletPop after the agreement was announced:

"CVS/pharmacy has reached an agreement with the State of New York to ensure that products are removed from its store shelves prior to their expiration dates in a manner that is consistent with the company's established policies and procedures.

"CVS is fully committed to maintaining inventory management practices to prevent expired products from being sold to customers. We have a comprehensive national product removal policy in place to ensure that our stores do not sell products past their expiration dates. Through its agreement with the State of New York, the Company will strengthen its internal monitoring practices to further ensure compliance and post in-store notices reminding customers to check expiration dates."
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