By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Rite Aid Corp will pay a $4.75 million civil fine to resolve U.S. allegations it failed to keep track of customers who bought products containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in many cold and cough medicines that can also be used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine.
The U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday that some Rite Aid employees violated the federal Controlled Substances Act by recording false or incomplete names and addresses of customers who bought tens of thousands of products containing pseudoephedrine from August 2009 to January 2014.
Rite Aid, based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, admitted that some employees improperly recorded customer information in logbooks, and has since voluntarily upgraded its sales processes, the government said. The settlement “sends a clear message” that anyone who makes, distributes or sells products with pseudoephedrine comply with federal laws to prevent their illegal use, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn, New York, said in a statement.
In a statement, Rite Aid said the accord concerned the sale of over-the-counter cold and allergy medications such as Advil Cold and Sinus and Claritin-D. Rite Aid did not admit liability in agreeing to settle.
Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant with side effects that can include appetite loss, irregular heartbeat, higher blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety and depression. It is sometimes used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown and Nick Zieminski)