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CVS to Pay More Than 500k Settlement for Allegedly Selling Overheated Products in Clark, Scotch Plains Locations

Clark Scotch Plains

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and the State Board of Pharmacy today announced a settlement with CVS Pharmacy Inc. in which the company will pay more than $500,000 and will take steps to protect New Jersey consumers from purchasing medications, infant formula, or other items if they are exposed to elevated temperatures for prolonged periods of time.

The settlement follows two separate 2012 incidents in which CVS pharmacies in Scotch Plains and Clark experienced air conditioning outages for multiple days. The stores continued to operate after inside temperatures exceeded the maximum recommended for the storage of drugs and other items for extended periods of time.

Potentially affected items were sold between June 20, 2012 and July 27, 2012 at the CVS at 514 Park Avenue in Scotch Plains; and between July 10, 2012 and July 20, 2012 at the CVS at 60 Westfield Avenue in Clark.

Certain medications may lose effectiveness if exposed to elevated temperatures for prolonged periods of time. No injuries or illnesses resulting from the 2012 incidents have been reported.

“We have taken an incident in which the public was exposed to potential harm, and turned it into an opportunity to create model practices for pharmacies across New Jersey,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “Under this settlement, CVS will keep a close eye on the temperatures at its New Jersey pharmacies, and will act immediately to remove affected medications before they are sold to the public. Failure to do so will be punishable under New Jersey’s laws governing consumer fraud and pharmacy operations.”

Acting Attorney General Hoffman noted that CVS in 2012 delayed in reporting, recognizing, and addressing the potential risks to the public that resulted from the incidents at the Scotch Plains and Clark pharmacies.

He acknowledged, however, that CVS has since worked with the Division of Consumer Affairs and Board of Pharmacy to investigate and address all issues arising from the incidents, and to improve CVS’s ability to respond to heating, ventilating, or air-conditioning failures and/or similar events in the future.

Among other things, CVS is converting its New Jersey stores to web-accessible or other systems to monitor and report on temperatures; establishing protocols and mechanisms to inspect merchandise and notify corporate headquarters about outages at New Jersey stores; changing its HVAC service provider in New Jersey; and assigning new field leadership to provide management and oversight of CVS pharmacies in New Jersey.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.