Walgreens to pay $7.5M in settlement over phony pharmacist
Oakland, Calif. – Walgreens will pay $7.5 million to settle with California authorities after an employee was criminally charged with impersonating a pharmacist and illegally filling more than 745,000 prescriptions in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Kim Thien Le has pleaded not guilty to felony impersonation charges. Prosecutors said that from late 2006 through 2017, Le used the license numbers of registered pharmacists in order to impersonate them and dispense prescriptions at Walgreens stores in Santa Clara and Alameda counties.
The prescriptions allegedly included more than 100,000 for opioids such as fentanyl, morphine and codeine.
Le herself didn’t have a pharmacist license, prosecutors said.
The district attorneys in both counties filed a consumer protection action against Walgreens. Prosecutors on Monday announced that the pharmacy giant agreed to settle. The company will pay $7.5 million in penalties, costs and remedial payments.
Walgreens officials did not immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.
“The burden is on the company to make sure its employees are properly licensed and to complete a thorough background check,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement.
The complaint alleged Walgreens failed to vet Le thoroughly when it promoted her to positions requiring a license and failed to make sure that its internal systems were strong enough to prevent an employee from evading them.
Walgreens has since taken steps to re-verify the licenses of its pharmacy employees around the country and instituted other remedial measures, O’Malley’s office said.