CVS ordered to pay $6.5 million in penalties and costs for selling products beyond “use by” expiration dates

RIVERSIDE – A civil law enforcement action involving CVS stores for selling over-the-counter drugs, infant formula, and baby food past the product expiration dates was settled May 11, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced. His office’s Consumer Protection Unit, along with 11 other California DA’s Offices, worked the case.

In a civil complaint filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, it was alleged that CVS Pharmacy Inc., Longs Drug Stores California, L.L.C., and Garfield Beach CVS, L.L.C., (“CVS”) offered for sale and sold over the past four years expired over-the-counter drugs, food items, infant formula, and baby food. Retailers in California are prohibited from selling over-the-counter drugs past their expiration date. Similarly, retailers are prohibited from selling infant formula and baby food after their “use by” dates.

CVS owns and operates more than 800 retail stores in California which sell general merchandise including over-the-counter drugs, food, infant formula, and baby food.

Once notified by prosecutors of the investigation, CVS was cooperative and conducted internal checks for expired over-the-counter drugs, as well as infant formula and baby food which were past their “use by” dates at all their California retail locations. CVS further invested time and resources to create a program for verification of expiration dates and re-trained store personnel regarding checking the dates. The investigation did not discover any evidence that the sale of any expired products resulted in physical harm to consumers.

Without admitting or denying liability, CVS agreed to be bound by a court order which prohibits any additional violations of California law relating to the sale or offer for sale of expired over-the-counter drugs or infant formula and baby food past their “use by” date. As part of the judgment, CVS was ordered to pay $6.5 million in civil penalties and investigative costs as well as an additional $1 million in restitution to be dispersed to several charitable organizations serving California citizens throughout a wide swath of the state.

Along with the Riverside County DA’s Office and Santa Cruz County DA’s Office, the settlement was in conjunction with DA’s Offices in Contra Costa, Fresno, Marin, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Shasta, Solano, and Yolo counties.

The settlement, case number 23CV01069, was signed on May 10, 2023, by Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann.

In Riverside County, the case was handled by Deputy DA Evan Goldsmith of the DA’s Consumer Protection Unit

Image Sources

  • CVS: Shutterstock