I still remember way back teaching my Public Policy class in 2006 when one of my students informed me that the persons who go from drugstore to drugstore buying up psuedoepherdirine (a key ingredient in crystal meth) are called smurfs.
Anyway, it turns out that CVS used particularly lax standards to try and crack down on smurfing and benefitted with huge profits from selling psuedoephedrine. Now, they’re paying for it. Via NPR’s Shots blog:
During 2007 and 2008, the problem was rampant in Southern California and Nevada, according to the facts laid out in an agreement between the company and federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. CVS’s sales of cold remedies zoomed.
“CVS supplied large amounts of pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine to traffickers in Southern California, and the company’s illegal sales led directly to an increase in methamphetamine production in California,” says a statementfrom the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
The company agreed to pay a $75 million fine and forfeit $2.6 million in profits from sales of the drugs.
I used to get pretty annoyed at needing to buy psuedoephedrine from the pharmacy after buying it OTC for years (the OTC replacement is basically a placebo), but it certainly seems as if it was a needed change.