Walgreens Settles Pharmacist Consultations Lawsuit

AUGUST 23, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor
Walgreens will pay a $500,000 settlement concerning a civil complaint that the retail pharmacy giant was not compliant with California regulations related to pharmacist consultations.
Alameda County District Attorney (DA) Nancy E. O’Malley; the office’s Consumer, Environmental, and Worker Protection Division; the California State Board of Pharmacy; and the Riverside and San Diego DA Offices worked together to investigate Walgreens pharmacies in California and pursue the consumer protection lawsuit.
These entities found Walgreens to be noncompliant with rules requiring pharmacists to perform consultations with patients receiving new prescriptions or new dosages, O’Malley announced in a press release.
According to California State Board of Pharmacy regulations, pharmacists must maintain patient medication profiles and counsel patients before they dispense medications.
“Consultation provides the pharmacist with the opportunity to educate patients who present new prescriptions and protect them from potential problems associated with a new medication by discussing possible side effects, contraindications, and the importance of following directions,” the rules state.

The state pharmacy board also maintains that these consultations can help prevent dispensing errors.

After undercover investigations showed issues with consultation practices at a number of Walgreens stores in California, the retail giant agreed to comply with the state’s regulations and implement an internal compliance program.

Walgreens also agreed to pay $79,200 in investigative costs and $423,000 in civil penalties. The company “worked cooperatively” with the prosecutors, a press release from O’Malley’s office stated.

“Pharmacist consultations are imperative to make certain that prescriptions have been filled according to a doctor’s order, as well as to advise the patient of proper and safe usage of the medication,” O’Malley stated. “My office remains dedicated to ensuring that the public has access to knowledge and education regarding the use of all prescription drugs.”