Crime & Justice

CVS settles lawsuit for $75 million over selling meth ingredient

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CVS Pharmacy has agreed to pay a multi-million dollar penalty after federal investigators found it had sold large amounts of cold medicine to drug traffickers in Southern California. Cold medicine has the chemicals that drug traffickers use to make methamphetamine.

The U.S. Attorney says between September of 2007 and November of 2008, CVS let people buy a lot more cold medicine with pseudoephedrine than federal law allows. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in methamphetamine.

Federal investigators say CVS had a system in place that didn’t catch people buying more than the law allows. Investigators caught thousands of violations in L.A. and Orange counties and in the Las Vegas area.

In some cases, people bought so much pseudoephedrine that they wiped out store shelves. Investigators say those sales led directly to an increase in meth production in California. They say CVS didn’t change its system until it found out it was being investigated.

Now, the retail drug store chain has agreed to settle the case for $75 million, plus nearly $3 million in profits from those sales. Officials say the settlement is the largest civil penalty under the federal Controlled Substances Act.