2001-06-16 / Front Page

CVS Fills Prescription For Disaster

 
By Gary G. Toms


Pictured: One of the many pages of the "Prescription Register", which lists private information about CVS customers.Pictured: One of the many pages of the "Prescription Register", which lists private information about CVS customers.

James Chambers is a five-year resident of Rockaway Beach. He is a simple man who enjoys the simple life. From time to time, he makes his way through the different dumping areas of Rockaway in effort to obtain artifacts and electronic equipment that has been deemed unusable by the previous owner. He repairs them or often makes use of them as an artist, but last week, James Chambers stumbled upon something that he knew he could not fix.

He showed up at the office of The Wave, and he enthusiastically presented documents that were obtained from the back area of a CVS Pharmacy, located at 88-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, where two huge dumpsters were located.

According to Chambers, the bins warehoused pages and pages of documents that contained vital information about patients who were getting prescriptions filled at this particular CVS pharmacy. These pages listed the customer’s name, address, what medication they were taking, the cost of the drug, the amount of drugs being taken by the customer and in some cases the customer’s home phone number.

"This is incredible! With so much concern about identity theft and how confidential information is being sold to insurance companies and low level criminals, how can this store allow this information to be on public display like this?" states Chambers. "There is no telling how long this information has been here, who may have gone through it or how long this store has been involved in this practice."

When studying the documents in greater detail, they revealed that the customer base was quite extensive, and the residential borders stretched from Far Rockaway and went well beyond Broad Channel. All of this confidential information was on full display, making them easy prey for criminals.

"If I were a psychotic killer, rapist or burglar, I’d have a field day with this stuff ", Chambers says. "Just imagine if someone found these documents, knew several people on the list and then realized that these people were taking a medication to treat AIDS. I certainly wouldn’t want that kind of information about me to be made public, and because of carelessness like this, it is more than possible."

After numerous attempts to speak with the Director of Operations for CVS, their corporate spokesperson, Mike Deangelis, finally contacted The Wave. According to Mr. Deangelis, CVS has just completed their own investigation of numerous CVS facilities, and they too found that these conditions did exist. "The dumpsters are ordinarily padlocked to prevent access to these materials, but vandals constantly break these locks to gain entry", said Deangelis.

When asked if placing confidential customer information in dumpsters was a common practice within the last five years, he confessed that it was. However, he went on to say that this practice would no longer be continued and that a mandate has been issued to all CVS stores, in all states, to stop this procedure immediately.

"Customer information will no longer be placed in dumpsters. Instead, it will be hauled off in CVS trucks to a CVS warehouse, where it will be properly destroyed." states Deangelis.

In conclusion, when questioned about what he might say to reinstate public confidence in the CVS franchise, given the seriousness of this matter, Deangelis then said, "We regret this action, and we will be taking steps to insure the public services."


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