Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) has agreed to settle a consumer protection lawsuit by paying $7.5 million after Alameda County District Attorney claimed that one of Walgreens ’pharmacists had worked in the Bay Area over a decade without a license.
Walgreens pharmacist handled 745,000 prescriptions without a license.
Prosecutors indicated that Kim Thien Le had handled thousands of prescriptions for over ten years without a license. The District attorney’s office indicated that Kim had handled close to 745,000 prescriptions for highly addictive drugs such as fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine between 2006 and 2017.
This is a major setback for the company that has been facing wider allegations regarding its role in the opioid epidemic. The company has been accused of promoting Kim to apposition that required a license without proper vetting of her credentials. District Attorney Nancy O’Malley stated that this should serve as a warning to healthcare providers that hire employees to positions that need professional licenses.
The authorities indicated that Kim had falsely impersonated the company’s pharmacists, and she used a license of someone with a similar first name to hers. Santa Clara County consumer protection unit deputy district attorney, Tiyen Lin, stated that consumers rely on pharmacies, and therefore it is important to ensure the person issuing prescriptions is competent, trained, and licensed. Lin indicated that there was nevertheless no evidence that Kim had distributed the opioids and other drugs improperly.
Walgreens to institute oversight measures
Walgreen, on Tuesday through its spokesperson, stated that since October 2017, the company had not employed Kim. Last summer, she was charged with impersonation and related felonies to which she pleaded not guilty, and the case is pending. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to begin a license-verification program as well as carrying annual audits and other oversight measures.
Walgreens equally faces an allegation of having fuelled the opioid epidemic. Last week pharmacists at the company Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) and CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS) claimed that chaotic workplaces and understaffing might have made it hard to carry out their roles safely.