CVS Generic Recalls Linked to Tainted Factories: Here's What to Toss

The drugstore has had the most medicine-related recalls compared to other pharmacies like Walgreens and Walmart.

CVS Pharmacy in downtown New York
Updated July 18, 2024
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If you’ve ever purchased from the CVS pharmacy, you may want to go through your medicine cabinet and toss a few items.  While shopping generic is always a smart money-saving move, in this case, frugal customers are getting burned for their choices. 

The drugstore has recalled several of its store-brand medicines in the last decade — and now, a new report reveals that it had significantly more recalls than other drugstores.

The issues with the recalled products (one was reportedly made using contaminated water, while another was created with the same machines that also produce pesticides) are just a few examples of what consumers are at risk from.

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Reconsider your go-to pharmacy

M. Suhail cvs pharmacy interior

Compared to Walgreens, CVS’s generic drugs have been recalled twice as much. And when weighed up against Walmart? Three times as much.

Experts say that ultimately, large pharmacies are more inclined to purchase drugs from suppliers with the cheapest costs; in exchange for lower manufacturing prices, the quality of those drugs suffers. “The best way to make a low-price product is to skimp on quality and that’s what we’re seeing over and over and over again,” Kevin Schulman, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, told Bloomberg.

However, a CVS spokesperson, Amy Thibault, assured those skeptical of its practices that the company has its priorities when choosing suppliers. CVS looks for “good manufacturing and ethical sourcing practices and the ability to meet our strict standards and testing practices,” Thibault said.

Throw out your eye ointment and eye drops

billtster - cvs aisle

You may already know that since these recalls have already occurred, you won’t need to worry about them being sold in the store. However, you may have purchased a recalled item in the last few years, and it may just be sitting in your medicine cabinet. 

 The most recent recall, which was announced in late February, was for the CVS Health Lubricant Eye Ointment. It was solid in a white tube and packaged in a cardboard box. According to the FDA, the product was recalled for “potential lack of sterility assurance.” 

 You should also be sure to toss CVS Lubricant Eye Drops and Lubricant Gel Eye Drops, which were recalled last November. According to Bloomberg, the facility where this product was made had peeling paint, barefoot workers, and bacteria in important parts of the production facility.

And make sure to check these other items

billtster - cvs bandaid aisle

In late 2022, CVS-brand First Aid Kits were recalled because they contained After-Burn cream, which was found to be contaminated with two different kinds of bacteria. 

 That same year, several flavors of an oral laxative were recalled. The Magnesium Citrate Saline Laxative Oral Solution was also found to be contaminated with a bacteria called Gluconacetobacter liquefaciens. 

 And finally, in late 2019, a CVS-brand children’s pain reliever was recalled because it was too potent. According to the FDA, some units of the CVS Health Infant’s Ibuprofen contained “higher levels of Ibuprofen concentration” that weren’t suitable for consumption.

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Bottom line

Veronique/Adobe cvs pharmacy signboard

In the last decade, CVS has had the most amount of recalls for its pharmacy products compared to its competitors Walgreens and Walmart.

 Some of these recalls include the store brand’s eye drops and ointments, as well as First Aid Kits, laxatives, and children’s pain relievers, so you may want to go through your medicine drawers to make sure you don’t have one of them.

Shopping generic is still a great way to save money...maybe just not at CVS until this is under control. 

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Jennifer Adams

Jennifer Adams is a writer for FinanceBuzz. Her goal is to help consumers make smart shopping decisions, and she loves discovering products from emerging brands.