The Rite Aid pharmacy chain has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle allegations that it failed to fully comply with rules about consulting with customers in California who receive new prescriptions, prosecutors and regulators said.
The civil complaint, which was filed in San Diego County Superior Court, alleged that Rite Aid pharmacists in the state frequently failed to fully comply with the California State Board of Pharmacy's rules requiring personal pharmacist consultations when prescription drug customers receive new prescriptions or new dosages of existing prescriptions.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley was one of three district attorneys in the state that participated in the case and whose offices conducted undercover investigations 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 ordered to comply with California's standards for patient consultations and must fully implement an internal compliance program.
Rite Aid also agreed to pay agency investigative costs of $78,250 and civil penalties of $420,000, for a total payment of just under $500,000.
Prosecutors said Rite Aid and its lawyers worked cooperatively with them to promptly resolve the matter and to implement the new compliance procedures.
O'Malley said in a statement, "The collaboration of the three district attorney offices and the California State Board of Pharmacy resulted in this 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."
Rite Aid said in a statement that it "worked cooperatively" with the attorneys who were involved in the case to reach a resolution that resolves the concerns raised without any admission of wrongdoing.
The pharmacy chain said, "This judgment was entered into as a result of a stipulation of the parties and without any admission of Rite Aid of liability or illegality."
Rite Aid said it has agreed to comply with the terms of the stipulated final order and "is committed to providing appropriate counseling by pharmacists that complies with all legal requirements and ensures that pharmacists personally speak to patients when counseling is required."