23132291_sUSA: A US pharmacy chain will pay more than $500,000 after air conditioning outages caused drugs to be exposed to excess temperatures.

The settlement follows two separate incidents in 2012 in which CVS pharmacies in Scotch Plains and Clark, New Jersey, experienced air conditioning outages for a number of days. The stores continued to operate after inside temperatures exceeded the maximum recommended for the storage of drugs and other items for extended periods of time.

CVS, the second largest pharmacy chain in the USA with more than 7,600 stores, will pay the State a total of $504,885.07, including $500,000 in civil penalties and the balance as reimbursement of the State’s costs.

Certain medications may lose effectiveness if exposed to elevated temperatures for prolonged periods of time. No injuries or illnesses resulting from the 2012 incidents were reported.

“We have taken an incident in which the public was exposed to potential harm, and turned it into an opportunity to create model practices for pharmacies across New Jersey,” acting attorney general John J Hoffman said. “Under this settlement, CVS will keep a close eye on the temperatures at its New Jersey pharmacies, and will act immediately to remove affected medications before they are sold to the public. Failure to do so will be punishable under New Jersey’s laws governing consumer fraud and pharmacy operations.”