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Local pharmacies accused of violations in sale of COVID-19 tests

Doctor or healthcare worker, consultation with senior adult patient in office, hospital, or clinic setting. He uses a digital tablet to record his notes or discuss test results. Both wear protective face masks. Coronavirus, medical exam, consultation. COVID-19
The Division of Consumer Affairs has imposed penalties against four pharmacies for alleged consumer protection violations in the sale of COVID-19 antigen tests.
The pharmacies cited are:
Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced the accusations on March 31.
The Notices of Violation (NOVs) are the latest round of enforcement actions taken to protect consumers from those seeking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID testing, in addition to vaccination, has been essential to New Jersey’s recent return to normalcy,” Platkin said in the statement. “While New Jersey residents have joined together in fighting COVID-19, unfortunately there are still some businesses seeking to profit unlawfully from the pandemic. Two years after the pandemic arrived in New Jersey, we still have zero tolerance for such conduct.”
The violations by the four pharmacies involve offering and selling COVID-19 test kits to the general public that were not authorized for at-home use, as well as failing to plainly mark or affix the price of a COVID test to the merchandise.
“The division is committed to enforcing the laws in place to protect consumers from unprincipled merchants,” Acting Director Sean P. Neafsey said in the statement. “We will continue to review and investigate complaints to keep the marketplace fair and honest.”
New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act protects consumers from deceptive conduct, misrepresentations and omissions, and other unconscionable business practices in connection with the sale of merchandise.
In addition to the assessed individual penalties that range from $500 to $5,000, the pharmacies must cease and desist from engaging in any practice in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, according to the statement.
To date, the division has sent 1961 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of price gouging and other unconscionable business practices during the coronavirus pandemic, and issued over 100 subpoenas seeking additional information in its investigations of alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, according to the statement.
Previous enforcement actions also include NOVs against a dozen merchants over consumer fraud violations related to COVID-19 with civil penalties totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
In January, the division sent more than 50 warning letters to businesses whose prices for COVID-19 test kits generated consumer complaints, according to the statement.


Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/Pages/Consumer-Complaints.aspx or can call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
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