The CVS Pharmacy chain has been fined $75 million (on top of forfeiting $2.6 million in profits) for unlawfully selling pseudoephedrine in California and Nevada in 2007 and 2008.

Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is a key ingredient in meth. The LA Times reports that CVS sold more PSE to customers than was legally allowed. The chain blames the sales on a malfunctioning statewide tracking system, but managers knew the pharmacies were vulnerable for some time, apparently.

In the last year, a debate flared up in the Metro Council over whether PSE should be banned from Louisville stores. While cities may place caps on the amount of PSE customers can purchase in a given time period, some manufacturers recruit a small group of “smurfers” to buy several doses of the drug from different stores, then use the PSE to make meth.

The LA Times article has more information on how CVS was caught, and the story ends with this bit of information:

The customers did not seem particularly secretive about their purchases — many used CVS discount cards to get credit for what they were buying, Mintz said. The most popular form of the drug was the CVS generic.

“Apparently, smurfers are good shoppers too,” she said.

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