Pharmacy Chain Walgreen Misled Customers About Expiration Dates of Prescription Drugs, Lawsuit Alleges
Pharmacy chain Walgreen "systematically defrauded" customers by affixing on prescription drug packages labels with expiration dates earlier than manufacturers' stated expiration dates, according to a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, the lawsuit, which seeks class action status, asks for damages for "thousands" of customers who were allegedly misled by the company's labeling practices and discarded medications early and replaced them with new ones. During the discovery period of the lawsuit, Walgreen said that its policy has been to include a "use before" label on prescription drug packaging that recommended that the drug should be used within one year of the date of sale. The company said the policy is intended to prevent people from taking medications that might have degraded outside of "controlled factory conditions" and added that some states require pharmacies to include "one-year-after-sale" labels on prescription drugs, the Journal reports. As a result of the lawsuit, Walgreen no longer attaches its own use-by labels to prescription drugs that are not repackaged at the pharmacy, the company said in court filings. In cases in which the manufacturer's expiration date preceded the anniversary of the date of sale, the manufacturer's expiration date always has been included, Walgreen said. In response to a second amended complaint, filed in December, the company said, "We believe this lawsuit is without merit. Our labeling now and always has been consistent with good and accepted pharmacy practice" (Burton, Wall Street Journal, 2/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.