CVS has agreed to pay $75 million in civil penalties and to forfeit $2.6 million in profits to resolve a government investigation for illegally selling pseudoephedrine to individuals who use it to manufacture methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient in methamphetamine. Starting in September of 2006 laws were enacted which prohibit pharmacies from selling more than 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine per day to any individual. CVS broke these laws by allowing individuals to purchase thousands of grams of pseudoephedrine in California and Nevada.
If you go into a drug store to purchase any medication containing this substance, you have to show your ID and sign an electronic device documenting the fact that you’ve made this purchase. You may have been asked to do this and not known why. Now you know.
Individuals sometimes referred to as “meth smurfs” buy quantities of cold medicine which contains pseudoephedrine. They then sell the cold medicine to manufacturers of methamphetamine for a small fee. These individuals commonly make several purchases a day for many days in order to obtain the necessary quantities to make the drug.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, has a website called, “Meth Check” where they can keep track of every purchase of pseudoephedrine. Individuals who are arrested for engaging in this conduct are caught using this system. They are then charged and sentenced based on the amount of pseudoephedrine that they purchase. The amounts can be extraordinary. Especially in light of the fact that large drug store chains like CVS are bound by the new laws. How then do they get away with paying a fine and individuals who purchase the medicine go to prison?
It’s all about money. The “meth smurfs” who usually make very little money and engage in this conduct out of desperation spend years in federal prison while the huge corporate conglomerate pays a fine and walks away. There is something very wrong with this picture.
I represent an individual charged with purchasing large quantities of pseudoephedrine in Federal Court in Southern California. I am doing everything in my power to see to it that justice is served and you can be certain the Judge in our case will hear about this outrageous disparity of treatment.