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CVS Pharmacy Admits to Illegally Selling Key Meth Ingredient, Will Pay $77.6 Million [Updated]

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CVS Pharmacy has agreed to settle with the federal government after admitting it illegally sold a key ingredient to criminals who made methamphetamine, the United States Attorney's Office said today. The company will pay a settlement of $77.6 million. $2.6 million of that represents the profit the company made from selling pseudoephedrine, the rest is a civil penalty, which is the largest ever paid under the Controlled Substances Act. “This case shows what happens when companies fail to follow their ethical and legal responsibilities,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a statement. “CVS knew it had a duty to prevent methamphetamine trafficking, but it failed to take steps to control the sale of a regulated drug used by methamphetamine cooks as an essential ingredient for their poisonous stew.”

By law, stores must limit the amount of pseudoephedrine, a “precursor chemical” that is used in the illegal manufacture of meth and found in cough and cold medicines, a person can purchase in one day, but CVS allegedly did not do that.

“CVS’s flagrant violation of the law resulted in the company becoming a direct link in the methamphetamine supply chain," said Michele M. Leonhart, the Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.