For release on February 3, 2020
Tiyen Lin, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
Walgreens Pays $7.5 Million in Consumer Protection Settlement
Pharmacy giant Walgreens will pay $7.5 million to resolve a DA’s lawsuit contending that the company allowed an unlicensed employee to handle over 745,000 prescriptions.
For over 15 years, Walgreens employed Kim Thien Le as an intern and a pharmacist during which she handled more than 100,000 prescriptions for controlled substances such as oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and codeine.
The 44-year-old Milpitas resident, who was never licensed, used the license of someone else with the same first name to obtain promotions, according to a consumer protection lawsuit filed by the Santa Clara County and Alameda County district attorney's offices.
Deputy District Attorney Tiyen Lin said: “Consumers depend on pharmacies to make sure that the person behind the counter preparing and giving out medical prescription drugs is trained, competent and licensed to do so. Their lives may depend on it.”
Le was working as a pharmacist at Walgreens in Milpitas, San Jose and Fremont. However, her licensure status was not discovered until the Board of Pharmacy conducted an audit in 2017. The law prohibits working in California as an intern pharmacist or pharmacist unless licensed by the Board.
Le has been criminally charged by the State Attorney General with criminal identity theft, false personation, and false pretenses. People v. Kim Thien Le, Alameda County Docket #19-CR-011517, was filed on July 25, 2019. That criminal action remains active. Le has pleaded not guilty.
The final judgment requires Walgreens to ensure licensure compliance by implementing a verification program, posting proof of licensure, conducting annual audits, and submitting an annual compliance report.
Walgreens and its counsel worked cooperatively with the Board and with prosecutors to implement the changes.