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Rite Aid to pay $4 million in prescription drug settlement

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A deal was announced Wednesday that requires Rite Aid Corporation to pay $4 million after a criminal investigation regarding the improper sale of methamphetamine precursor pseudoephedrine in West Virginia.

The settlement includes Rite Aid’s full acceptance of responsibility for improper sale of pseudoephedrine between January 2009 and October 2012 in West Virginia and acknowledges the corporation’s remedial efforts and ensures future steps to help prevent pseudoephedrine abuse, according to a new release from U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart.

Under the settlement, Rite Aid must pay $4 million, which is about 80 percent of its gross sales of pseudoephedrine in West Virginia during the January 2009 and October 2012 time frame. The $4 million will provide resources for crime victim compensation and treatment of drug addiction, the release said.

The $4 million will stay in West Virginia. Rite Aid must pay $2.6 million to the West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund, the release said. The amount is more than double the total federal grants the fund receives in an entire year, and is just shy of the total amount of money the fund paid to crime victims in all of 2016 and 2017 combined.

The settlement also requires Rite Aid to pay $1.4 million to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Stuart required the agreement of DHHR to use the funding for substance abuse treatment to help fight addiction.

“This settlement sends a strong message to businesses that we will not tolerate putting sales over safety. Most significantly, every dollar paid out by Rite Aid is going to stay right here in West Virginia, and not go into the black hole of Washington,” Stuart said in the release. “This funding will provide increased resources for two critical areas – compensating crime victims and drug treatment. Rest assured that my office will keep fighting to ensure that anyone responsible for the drug scourge in our state is held responsible, from the suppliers to the pharmacies to the street dealers poisoning our communities.”

During the investigation, Rite Aid has taken remedial actions to comply with federal law and to help ensure that pseudophedrine is sold only to people who have a legitimate need for it, the release said. The agreement requires Rite Aid to continue those remedial steps and to take additional action.

In November 2013, Rite Aid removed single ingredient pseudophedrine products (the products preferred by manufacturers of methamphetamine) from its stores, and now only sells tamper-resistant, single-ingredient pseudophedrine products in West Virginia.

Rite Aid also will now train its employees on how to identify people who may be purchasing pseudophedrine to manufacture methamphetamine, and it will further train and instruct its employees to deny those sales.

In addition, Rite Aid will continue requiring stores in West Virginia to store pseudophedrine products out of the view of customers to make it easier and safer for store employees to deny suspicious sales, and Rite Aid will require pharmacists to counsel all customers seeking to purchase the products.

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