CVS Caremark settles meth investigation

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:11pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A CVS Caremark Corp subsidiary agreed to pay $77.6 million to settle an investigation that it unlawfully sold a key ingredient to manufacture methamphetamine, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles said on Thursday.

CVS Pharmacy Inc admitted it sold pseudoephedrine to criminals who used it to make the drug, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. CVS eventually changed its practices to prevent the sales after it became aware of the investigation, the government said in its statement.

In a statement on Thursday, CVS called the sales an "unacceptable breach" of company policy and "totally inconsistent with our values."

CVS agreed to pay a $75 million civil penalty and forfeit $2.6 million in profits from the illegal sales.

The government said it will not pursue criminal charges against CVS, and the company will implement a compliance and ethics program.

CVS Caremark shares were down 2.1 percent to $30.98 in late New York Stock Exchange trading.

(Reporting by Dan Levine, Editing by Peter Henderson and Gerald E. McCormick)

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