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Walgreens Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit

Consultations with pharmacists can save lives. By consulting with patients, pharmacists can ensure they have the right medication for their conditions and that multiple medications won't be harmful.

Apparently, Walgreens pharmacists were shirking that responsibility, and now the chain is paying over half a million dollars to settle a consumer protection lawsuit.

Prescription Pill Parameters

The California State Board of Pharmacy has regulations requiring pharmacists to provide a personal consultation any time a patient:

  • Receives a prescription drug not previously dispensed to that patient;
  • Receives a different dosage, form, or strength of a prescription drug; or
  • Requests a consultation.

Officials note that 150,000 Californians misuse prescription drugs each year, costing the state almost $2 billion in economic losses. (This is probably why the Food and Drug Administration warns against buying medications over the Internet.)

Way back in 2011, the Board alerted district attorney's offices in San Diego, Riverside, and Alameda County to the issue of pharmacists failing to provide required consultations. In response, the counties began running undercover operations in major pharmacy chains statewide to uncover lax consultation practices.

Getting the Treatment

This is the third enforcement act regarding pharmacist consultations (or lack thereof); CVS received an injunction and paid $658,500 in December 2013, and Rite Aid also received an injunction and paid $498,250 in June 2014.

Though it admits no liability, Walgreens will pony up $502,200 as part of their settlement, and is also subject to an injunction forcing its pharmacists to comply with the state Board of Pharmacy's standards for patient consultations. Walgreens operates over 600 pharmacies in the state and must implement a strict internal compliance program to insure it does not violate protocols in the future.

The settlement comes on the heels of a 2012 lawsuit claiming Walgreens overcharged insurance companies for generic drugs.

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