Big chains spoiled rotten - More expired goods found on Rite Aid, CVS shelves

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Pharmacy conglomerates Rite Aid and CVS are spoiling Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s mood.

After warning them to clean up their act and remove spoiled, expired and otherwise outdated products, Cuomo announced this week that a failed “follow-up” investigation is forcing him to take legal action against the two companies.

Cuomo said that undercover inspectors still found spoiled milk, eggs and expired medications in several CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies in Manhattan as well as a handful in Albany and upstate New York as recently as June 18.

The Attorney General’s initial survey, which began in March, concluded on June 12, revealing that 142 CVS stores and 112 Rite Aid stores throughout the state were selling expired products.

But it does seem that managers at local stores have taken Cuomo’s warnings seriously.

The recent inspection showed no expired products at any Brooklyn locations, although expired bottles of Excedrin PM and Tylenol Allergy caps were found at the Rite Aid at 120 Court Street near Atlantic Avenue during the initial review. An expired bottle of Rite Aid brand cold medicine was also found in the chain store at 182 Smith Street at Warren Street.

Additionally, an expired bottle of Children’s Lactose Intolerance Aid was found at a CVS store at 156 Henry Street near Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights. Expired bottles of Mylicon Children’s Gas relief and CVS brand Maximum Flu Relief were discovered at another CVS at 395 Court Street at 1st Place in Carroll Gardens.

Investigators said that some of the medications they found in Brooklyn during the initial inspection had been expired for over a month. Other medications had been expired for at least seven months.

But while it seems that CVS and Rite Aid lived up to their promise to remove the expired products from store shelves in Kings County, they didn’t do a thorough enough job state-wide to appease Cuomo.

A spokesman for Cuomo’s office said that two weeks ago, undercover investigators returned to stores identified for previously selling expired goods and once again were able to purchase outdated goods. Investigators purchased expired goods in half of the CVS stores they visited and 40 percent of the Rite Aid stores they visited across the city, the spokesperson said.

“CVS and Rite Aid have continued to show a blatant disregard for the safety of their customers across the New York City area, selling expired over-the-counter children’s drugs and other items in their stores,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Their unwillingness to immediately purge their shelves of all expired goods has left us little option but to sue.”

Officials from the two companies would not comment on the pending lawsuit and said that they were redoubling their efforts to remove expired products from their shelves.

Updated 3:46 pm, October 19, 2011
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