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CVS to Pay $75 Million Fine for Selling Cough Syrup and Cold Medicine to Meth Dealers

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It might have occurred to Los Angeles shoppers in 2008 that people clearing the shelves at CVS of pseudoephedrine products weren’t sick, but it apparently didn’t ring any bells with the store owners. Now, CVS faces $75 million in fines since the “sick” customers were actually “smurfers” buying small amounts of cough and cold medicines over hundreds of visits to various chains—all with the intent of cooking up methamphetamine products in labs.

According to federal prosecutors in L.A., CVS should have been monitoring the sales of pseudoephedrine products and limiting how much customers could buy. In fact, CVS has automated “meth trackers”—or log books where store employees record purchases of the products. However, the company recently claimed that there was an IT glitch in that system that ultimately resulted in the excessive sales of the pseudoephedrine products.

CVS Caremark CEO Thomas Ryan recently admitted that the chain violated its own policies. Prosecutors say this problem also occurred in 25 other states, including Nevada. As part of the $75 million settlement deal the government agreed not to seek criminal charges against CVS.