Attorney General Cuomo Reveals That Syracuse Area Cvs And Rite Aid Stores Continue To Sell Potentially Harmful Expired Products Despite Pledging Last Week To Purge Their Shelves Of All Outdated Goods
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (June 17, 2008) - One week after announcing his office is taking legal action against CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies for selling expired products - including milk, eggs, medicines and baby formula - at stores across the Syracuse area and New York State, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today revealed that the major pharmacy chains continue to sell expired goods at stores in the Syracuse area. Standing at the CVS store on South Crouse Avenue, the Attorney General announced that his undercover investigators this week once again purchased expired products, including children’s medicine, from CVS and Rite Aid stores in the region. The Attorney General therefore announced that he has no choice but to file a lawsuit against the drugstore chains.
“Despite last week’s announcement, Syracuse area CVS and Rite Aid stores continue to show a disregard for the safety of their customers, selling expired over-the-counter children’s drugs and other items that could potentially be harmful,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “These companies have a responsibility to put customer safety ahead of profits, and unless they aggressively and immediately purge their shelves of all expired goods, I’m prepared to force them do so.”
Last week, Cuomo announced that a three-month investigation of all major drug store chains in New York State uncovered an egregious pattern at two of the largest chains: CVS and Rite Aid. In the Central New York Region, 3 CVS and 13 Rite Aid stores were found to be selling expired products.
In response, the Attorney General last Thursday sent the companies a five day notice letter, as required by statute, notifying both CVS and Rite Aid of the intent to commence litigation against them. In response to the Attorney General’s announcement, CVS immediately stated “We will work aggressively to ensure that our review and removal procedures are followed consistently in all of our stores. We value the trust our customers have placed in us to sell them products that are safe and effective, and the findings of New York's attorney general are unacceptable to us.”
Rite Aid responded in kind, stating its stores “were told to make sure there is no such product on the shelf now” and that they were "moving immediately across the nation to check all of our products."
But despite the pharmacies’ pledges to immediately purge its stores’ shelves of expired goods, today Attorney General Cuomo revealed local CVS and Rite Aids across the Syracuse area continue to sell expired goods. Yesterday, investigators from the Attorney General’s Office returned to local CVS and Rite Aids in Central New York and once again found expired products for sale. At a CVS pharmacy located at 700 South Crouse Avenue and at a Rite Aid in Cicero investigators purchased expired over-the-counter drugs.
Below is a list of some of the expired items purchased by investigators from the Attorney General’s office yesterday.
CVS Pharmacy (700 S. Crouse Ave., Syracuse)
1) Children's Benadryl Allergy
2) Children Claritin Allergy
3) Chlor Trimeton Allergy
Rite Aid (Cicero, N.Y)
1) Rite Aid Throat Spray
2) Children's Tylenol
3) Cepacol Sore Throat Extra Strength
Statewide, the Attorney General’s investigation last week released data showing that it uncovered that 142 CVS and 112 Rite Aid stores in over 41 counties sold multiple expired products. This reflects 61 percent of the CVS stores visited and 44 percent of the Rite Aid stores visited.
At these locations, undercover investigators were able to purchase more than 600 expired products, including milk, eggs, medicines and baby formula. Several of the expired products were over one-year-old.
Because of the companies’ failure to remove potentially dangerous products from their shelves, Attorney General Cuomo has sent the companies a five day notice letter, as required by statute, notifying both CVS and Rite Aid of the intent to commence litigation against them.
A list of addresses at all the Rite Aid and CVS stores in New York State found to be selling expired products is available online at www.ag.ny.gov. The list includes details on the specific products that were sold at each store.
The companies’ practices violate a host of federal, state and local laws intended to protect the general public, including prohibiting the sale of expired over the counter medication, prohibiting the sale of “adulterated” food and infant formula, prohibiting the sale of milk beyond its expiration date, prohibiting sale of perishable foods beyond their expiration date and many others.
CVS/pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Caremark Corporation, is the largest retail pharmacy in the U.S. with more than 6,300 retail locations. The company is headquartered in Woonsocket, RI (NYSE: CVS). Rite Aid Corporation has more than 5,000 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Headquartered in Camp Hill, PA, Rite Aid is the largest drugstore chain on the East Coast and the third largest drugstore chain in the U.S. (NYSE: RAD).
The cases are being jointly handled by Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Michael Berlin, Consumer Frauds Bureau Chief Joy Feigenbaum, Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs/Deputy Counsel Frank Hoare and Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Risa Sugarman. In the Syracuse Region, the investigation is being conducted by Edward Thompson.