Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley announced this week that the Office's Consumer and Environmental Protection Division, along with Riverside and San Diego District Attorneys' Offices and the California State Board of Pharmacy, has settled a $498,250 lawsuit against the owners of the Rite Aid pharmacy chain in California.
Rite Aid operates a pharmacy at Hopyard Road and Valley Avenue in Pleasanton.
The civil complaint, filed in San Diego Superior Court, alleges that California Rite Aid pharmacists frequently failed to comply fully with the board's rules requiring personal pharmacist consultations when prescription drug customers receive new prescriptions or new dosages of existing prescriptions.
In 2011 the California State Board of Pharmacy contacted the three District Attorneys' offices concerning health risks that may arise when pharmacists fail properly to provide needed personal consultation to prescription drug customers. Working with the Board of Pharmacy, the three DA offices conducted an undercover investigation of the consultation practices of a number of the major pharmacy chains in California.
Under the terms of the judgment, which was entered without admission of liability, Rite Aid is permanently enjoined to comply properly with California's standards for patient consultations, and must fully implement an internal compliance program. The Rite Aid entities also agreed to pay agency investigative costs of $78,250 and civil penalties totaling $420,000.
Alameda County will receive one-third, or $140,000, of those civil penalties and $18,500 of the costs.
Rite Aid and its counsel worked cooperatively with the prosecutors to promptly resolve the matter and to implement the new compliance procedures.
"The collaboration of the three D.A. Offices and the State Board of Pharmacy resulted in today's settlement," O'Malley said.
"Pharmacist consultations are imperative to safeguard that prescriptions have been filled according to a doctor's order, as well as to advise the patient of proper and safe usage of the medication. My Office remains dedicated to ensuring that the public has access to knowledge and education regarding the use of all prescription drugs."
Thrifty Payless, Inc., a California corporation, is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid Corporation, a Delaware corporation. Payless owns and operates the 582 Rite Aid-branded pharmacies in California, including the one in Pleasanton, on behalf of the Rite Aid Corporation.