Attorney General Cuomo Reaches $1.3 Million Settlement With Rite Aid Over The Sale Of Expired Products Across New York State
NEW YORK, NY (December 4, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has reached a $1.3 million settlement with the national retail pharmacy chain Rite Aid to end its sale of expired products – including over-the-counter drugs, baby formula, milk, and eggs – at stores across New York State.
The agreement with Rite Aid was the result of the Attorney General’s statewide, undercover investigation earlier this year of all major drug store chains in New York State. Cuomo’s probe uncovered sales of expired products in over 122 Rite Aid stores and 148 CVS stores in more than 41 New York counties. The Attorney General announced the findings of his office’s investigation in June and issued a public health advisory at that time. Subsequent inspections by the Attorney General at both Rite Aid and CVS stores revealed that both stores were continuing to sell expired products even after the Attorney General’s advisory.
“In today’s difficult economic times, consumers should not be spending their hard earned money on expired products that may be harmful to themselves or their children,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Today, Rite Aid has demonstrated its commitment to addressing the serious health risks posed by expired products and to ensuring that consumers get the quality products they pay for. I commend Rite Aid for its cooperation with our office in resolving the concerns raised by our investigation.”
As part of its settlement agreement with the Attorney General’s office, Rite Aid has agreed to immediately pay a civil penalty of $1 million and an additional penalty of up to $300,000 if it fails to comply with the terms of the agreement over the next three years. According to the agreement, Rite Aid will refrain from selling expired products, institute protocols to ensure that expired products are not stocked on Rite Aid shelves, and begin employee training to assist Rite Aid employees in identifying and removing expired products. As part of these new protocols, Rite Aid will conduct weekly inspections of its New York stores to ensure that expired over-the-counter drugs, infant formula, milk, and eggs are not offered for sale. For a period of three years, Rite Aid’s New York stores will undergo internal compliance checks for expired products. Any Rite Aid store that fails its compliance check will be subject to a fine of $2,500.
The Attorney General’s legal action against another national retail pharmacy chain, CVS, continues due to its unwillingness to properly address the problems found at its New York stores. As recently as yesterday, investigators purchased expired medicines and baby formula from CVS. The Attorney General’s lawsuit against CVS charges the company with repeated violations of state, federal, and local New York laws by selling over-the-counter drugs, infant formula, milk, and eggs that had expired as far back as 2006. In selling expired over-the-counter drugs, CVS violated a previous agreement with the Attorney General’s Office in 2003 in which it had agreed to institute procedures and employee training to prevent the sale of expired medication.Attorney General Cuomo’s lawsuit seeks to permanently prevent CVS from selling or offering to sell expired products, require CVS to institute enhanced training procedures to prevent the sale of expired products, require CVS to disclose to consumers the serious health risks of using expired products, and compel CVS to retain a permanent independent monitor to perform monthly, randomized compliance checks at CVS stores throughout New York. The Attorney General also seeks refunds for all CVS consumers who purchased expired products and fines based upon its repeated and serious law violations.
Consumers who purchase and use expired over-the-counter drugs, infant formula, milk, and eggs may suffer serious, even life-threatening consequences. Once an over-the-counter drug has passed its expiration date, there is no assurance that it is safe to the consumer or effective for its intended uses. Infants and children are particularly susceptible to the health risks from using expired products, especially expired infant formula, since it may not contain the nutrient levels required for proper infant development.
The settlement and case are being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Mary Alestra and Laura Levine under the supervision of Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau Chief Joy Feigenbaum and Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Michael Berlin.