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February 13 2020

Walgreens to pay $7.5M in settlement over phony pharmacist

Walgreens will pay $7.5 million to settle with California authorities after an employee was found to be impersonating a pharmacist San Francisco.

Kim Thien Le pleaded not guilty to felony impersonation charges, as reported by ABC News.

Prosecutors said that from late 2006 through 2017, Le used the license numbers of genuine and registerd pharmacists and impersonated them.

She then dispensed more than 745,000 prescriptions at Walgreens stores in Santa Clara and Alameda counties, allegedly including 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, with prosecutors on 3 February 2020 announcing the pharmacy giant agreed to settle.

The company will pay $7.5 million in penalties, costs and remedial payments.

“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 news release announcing the settlement.

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.

In a statement Walgreens said Le hasn't worked for the company since 2017, adding: "Pharmacy quality and safety are top priorities, and upon learning of this issue, we undertook a re-verificationof the licenses of all our pharmacists nationwide."