Philadelphia City Council members and community groups this morning urged the city's law department to take action against the drugstore chain CVS for repeatedly selling expired products.
The City Hall Press conference was held to encourage city solicitor, Shelley Smith, to follow the similar legal actions that New York and California have taken against CVS. Smith did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The State of New York sued CVS in December over the chain's sale of expired products and California's Attorney General Edmund Brown called on the pharmacy chain in June 2008 to fix the problem after finding expired items at 26 Southern California stores last year. California is currently in the process of suing the drugstore.
Philadelphia Community Affairs Director Lance Haver said the state Attorney General has not responded to requests over the past few months from several city council members on the CVS issue, prompting today's press conference seeking help from the city.
"CVS should spend the money it needs to clear the shelves of expired products that are putting our children at risk," said Haver.
Council members are willing to take necessary legislative action including the institution of a fine for the sale of expired medicinces.
"CVS has been caught selling expired products in our City and around the country," Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez said at the press conference. "It is outrageous that we are here today calling on a corporate citizen to remove dangerous products from the shelves."
A table at the conference displayed 36 expired items bought at 15 CVS drugstores around Philadelphia from late January to early March. The products ranged from over-the-counter medications and infant formula to dairy products.
Allergy tablets had expired over a year before purchase and an infant's gas relief medicine was close to two year's outdated.
Councilman Bill Greenlee said legal action is needed to protect the community from the dangerous products sold at CVS drugstores.
"It is particularly disturbing that CVS knows about this problem, it has been documented, and they are taking little or no steps to rectify the situation," Greenlee said.
CVS, in a statement this morning, said that the health and safety of customers is the pharmacy's top priority.
"We have a clear product removal policy in place at all of our stores to help ensure that items are removed from our shelves before they reach their expiration date," according to the statement. "While no process this labor intensive is immune from error - a typical CVS pharmacy has 100,000 items on its shelves- we strive to achieve 100 percent compliance and move quickly to rectify any unitentional deviation from our policies and procedures."
Community civil rights and religious leaders are also calling for enforcement action.
"The most vulnerable of our citizens are at risk and CVS has not responded," Bishop Dwayne Royster said, a minister at the Living Water United Church of Christ.
Karen Bojar, the National Organization for Women Philadelphia Chapter President, said CVS spent millions of dollars to create the image that it supports women.
"They use the slogan, "All the ways we care," but they don't want to take reponsibility for their action," Bojar said. "If CVS wants our trust, the company needs to worry less about image making and more about taking expired products of the shelves."