Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that the Division of Consumer Affairs has imposed penalties against four pharmacies for alleged consumer protection violations in selling COVID-19 antigen tests.
The Notices of Violation (NOVs) are the latest round of enforcement actions taken to protect consumers from those seeking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID testing, in addition to vaccination, has been essential to New Jersey’s recent return to normalcy,” Acting Attorney General Platkin said.
“While New Jersey residents have joined together in fighting COVID-19, unfortunately, there are still some businesses seeking to profit unlawfully from the pandemic. Two years after the pandemic arrived in New Jersey, we still have zero tolerance for such conduct.”
According to Acting Attorney General Platkin, the violations by the four pharmacies cited by the Division involve offering and selling COVID-19 test kits to the general public that were not authorized for at-home use, as well as failing to plainly mark or affix the price of a COVID test to the merchandise.
The pharmacies cited are:
- SLV Pharmacy, Inc., d/b/a Valley Pharmacy, in Succasunna, Morris County, which was cited for offering and selling COVID-19 test kits to the general public that were not authorized for at-home use, and also for offering and selling tests for at-home use without the total selling price plainly marked or affixed to the merchandise
- Sayreville Pharmacy in Monroe Township, Middlesex County, which was cited for offering and selling COVID-19 test kits to the general public that were not authorized for at-home use
- Sanraj Inc., d/b/a Iselin Pharmacy, in Iselin, Middlesex County, which was cited for offering and selling COVID-19 test kits to the general public that were not authorized for at-home use
- Khawajarx, Inc., d/b/a Wellcare Pharmacy, in Union City, Hudson County, which was assessed a penalty for offering and selling COVID-19 antigen test kits without the total selling price plainly marked or affixed to the merchandise
“The Division is committed to enforcing the laws in place to protect consumers from unprincipled merchants,” Acting Director Sean P. Neafsey said.
“We will continue to review and investigate complaints to keep the marketplace fair and honest.”
New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act protects consumers from deceptive conduct, misrepresentations and omissions, and other unconscionable business practices in connection with the sale of merchandise.
According to Acting Attorney General Platkin, in addition to the individually assessed penalties that range from $500 to $5,000, the pharmacies must cease and desist from engaging in any practice in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
To date, the Division has sent 1961 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of price gouging and other unconscionable business practices during the coronavirus pandemic and issued over 100 subpoenas seeking additional information in its investigations of alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Previous enforcement actions also include NOVs against a dozen merchants over consumer fraud violations related to COVID-19 with civil penalties totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
In January, the Division sent more than 50 warning letters to businesses whose prices for COVID-19 test kits generated consumer complaints.
As infection rates remain low and residents continue to use testing to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Division encourages consumers to stay alert and follow these tips as they consider available testing options:
- Find where to get tested. New Jersey’s COVID-19 hub has a list of public testing sites, including free testing (if available). Find a Federally Qualified Health Center near you, whether you have health insurance or not and regardless of your immigration status, with this search tool
- Make use of your insurance benefits. Many insurance companies cover home COVID-19 tests. Check with your health plan to understand covered testing options available to you
- Verify claims. Check the FDA’s website for a list of authorized antigen and molecular diagnostic tests. Avoid buying tests that have not received authorization, as they may not yield accurate results
- Research before buying. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the Division online or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.