Probe: drug store chains selling expired goods

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo recently took legal action against CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies for selling expired products across New York State. - Photo courtesy of the Office of the Attorney General

An undercover investigation of all major drug store chains operating in New York State recently revealed 254 CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies sold more than 600 expired products.

On Thursday, June 12, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced his office was taking legal action.

Since March, Cuomo’s investigation has uncovered that 142 CVS and 112 Rite Aid stores in more than 41 counties sold expired milk, eggs, medicines and baby formula, many of which were more than one year old.

“My ongoing investigation has uncovered a shameful disregard for public health in these stores,” Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.

The biggest offender was the CVS at 224 E. 161st Street, which sold five bottles of Bayer Aspirin that expired in January of 2006, while the Rite Aid at 642 Westchester Avenue sold Alka Seltzer and Sudafed PE that expired in November of 2007.

Other Rite Aid offenses were found at the following addresses: 3012 Third Avenue; 1540 Grand Concourse; 356 E. 149th Street; 840 Westchester Avenue; and 32 E. 170th Street. 

CVS offenders included stores at 282 E. 149th Street; 310 E. Gun Hill Road; 3125 Bainbridge Avenue; 732 Allerton Avenue; 3276 Westchester Avenue; and 565 W. 235th Street. 

White Plains Road BID director Larry Prospect said he was shocked to hear the CVS at 2112 White Plains Road sold expired infants Ibuprofen.

“That’s very bad,” he said. “I’m sorry they did it on our street and that they did it at all.”

Enfamil, Children’s Dimetapp, Excedrin PM, milk and Acetaminophen were among the number of expired items sold at the CVS and Rite Aid stores statewide.

“Families across New York State buy products from these establishments assuming that they’re coming from a safe, reputable source,” Cuomo said.  “However, when the products pass their expiration dates, they become ineffective and potentially unsafe, threatening to put our loved ones at risk.”

While Prospect always checks the expiration dates before purchasing his items, he said he understands why the younger and more trusting generations don’t.

Even so, he said, “I would urge them to check everything, everything they buy.”

In response, Rite Aid media relations representative Ashley Flower said, “The findings are unacceptable to us and we’re immediately retraining our stores.”

Also commenting on behalf of the store, CVS director of public relations Mike DeAngelis said, “We value the trust our customers have placed in us to sell them products that are safe and effective. Our policy is to remove items before they go beyond the expiration date and we continue to work aggressively to ensure that our review and removal procedures are followed consistently in all of our stores.”

Though the companies promised change after the first undercover investigation discovered the slew of expired products, another go around just two weeks later led investigators to find that 50% of CVS and 40% of Rite Aid stores still sold the outdated goods.

Deeply disappointed by the findings, Cuomo said, “These companies allowed personal profit to get ahead of customer health. I am committed to protecting New York Consumers and we will continue to investigate this troubling practice.”

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