CVS Fined $75M for Selling Meth Ingredient

Pharmacy chain punished for role in California drug 'spike'
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser User
Posted Oct 15, 2010 5:36 AM CDT
A reporter holds a nasal decongestant drug prescription containing pseudoephedrine outside a CVS outlet in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(Newser) – The nation's largest retail pharmacy chain, CVS, is in trouble with the law for allowing customers to buy large amounts of cold medicine containing a key ingredient used in the manufacture of methamphetamine How much trouble? About $75 million worth. Federal authorities ruled that the chain didn't do enough to prevent trafficking and issued the largest fine ever issued under the Controlled Substances Act, the AP reports.

The chain was found to have repeatedly violated a federal law limiting how much pseudoephedrine a customer can buy in one day. Authorities say the chain's lack of oversight caused a spike in in Southern California drug trafficking. Criminals known as "Smurfers"—who could buy a bottle of cold medicine for $10 and sell it to meth manufacturers for $25—knew to frequent CVS and regularly bought stores' entire supply of cold medicine. (Why are people cooking meth in their cars? Find out here.)

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