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CVS to ID customers buying nail polish remover

Add nail polish remover to the list of pharmacy items whose sale is being restricted to thwart criminals who use it illegally to make crystal meth.

CVS Caremark recently began implementing a policy that requires buyers to present valid photo identification when buying nail polish remover and limits the amount of nail polish remover than can be purchased at one time.

The store policy is similar to state and federal laws enacted in recent years to control the sale of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in methamphetamine. The acetone in nail polish remover and other personal care items sold in drug stores is also a key ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

“Because acetone is an ingredient used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, we recently implemented a policy that a valid ID must be presented to purchase acetone-containing products such as nail polish remover,” said CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis. “Our policy also limits the sale of these products in conjunction with other methamphetamine precursors and is based on various regulations requiring retailers to record sales of acetone.”

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said he was aware of CVS’ new policy but noted the state does not require retailers to track solvent purchases.

Still, industry experts said they would not be surprised to see Walgreens and other pharmacies follow CVS’ lead in adopting a preemptive policy to protect against legal liabilities.

In 2010, CVS agreed to pay $77.6million to settle a federal lawsuit charging the company with selling large amounts of cough medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

“There are so many things that you could essentially be held liable for,” said Antonio Ciaccia, a spokesman for the Ohio Pharmacists Association. “Any pharmacy that takes it upon themselves to say, ‘I’m not going to carry this product’ or ‘I’m going to adopt measures to maybe stem something bigger from happening;’ obviously, we applaud things like that.

“But I certainly wouldn’t want to see us start adopting (policies) that if anything can come back to bite you, you have to go ahead and outlaw it or create new rules and regulations for people to follow,” Ciaccia added. “If you started requiring ID swipes for everything that could be potentially dangerous, I think we’d start running into some serious problems.”

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