July 7, 2014 (San Diego)--Uninformed or improper use of prescription drugs harms an estimated 150,000 Californians each year and contributes to an estimated $1.7 billion in economic losses throughout the state.
Now, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced that, together with several other agencies, they obtained a settlement of nearly a half million dollars in a lawsuit against the owners of Rite Aid. The suit sought to protect patients, alleging that Rite Aid’s pharmacists throughout California often failed to comply fully with rules requiring personal pharmacist consultations.
“These rules are in place to protect prescription drug customers and make sure they understand how to use them properly,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “Our Consumer Protection Unit will continue working with other DA Offices and state agencies to hold companies like Rite Aid accountable and safeguard the health of individuals who interact with their pharmacies.”
Regulations enforced by the California State Board of Pharmacy require that a pharmacist must provide personal consultation to a patient receiving a prescription drug not previously dispensed to that patient, or if the patient is prescribed a drug in a different dosage, form, or strength, or anytime the patient requests a consultation.
Working with the Board of Pharmacy, the San Diego, Alameda and Riverside District Attorneys’ Offices conducted an undercover investigation of consultation practices at a number of the major pharmacy chains in California. The present enforcement action is the second of several such actions anticipated as a result of that investigation, following the similar December 2013 settlement involving California’s CVS pharmacies.
District attorney investigators found a significant pattern of failures to provide the required consultations with patients.
Under the terms of the judgment, which was entered without admission of liability, Rite Aid agreed to comply with California’s standards for patient consultations, and must implement an internal compliance program. Rite Aid also agreed to pay agency investigative costs of over $78,000 and civil penalties totaling $420,000. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office will receive $140,000 of those civil penalties and $18,500 of the costs.
California’s 582 Rite Aid pharmacies are owned and operated by Thrifty Payless Inc.