Health and safety issues uncovered at Salem CVS Pharmacy during misconduct probe

The allegations go as far back as 2021

SALEM, Va. – Improper vaccine administration, expired drugs, and opioid theft.

Those are just a few of the findings from an investigation into a CVS in Salem by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

We first brought you concerns over store on Chestnut Street — Store #3794 in 2021, when then 17-year old Ellaica Desdura claimed she had been given an undiluted dose of the Pfizer shot.

The board found CVS contracted a nurse to give the vaccines that hadn’t been trained in CVS’ policies for diluting and administering vaccines.

The nurse provided the board with an email from a district manager at CVS Health saying, “the new colleague training class has been cancelled, so you will not have to complete that.”

But that’s just one of the findings.

The board went on to discover that the store failed to protect against the theft of controlled substances.

One pharmacy tech admitted board investigators to stealing several controlled substances between Aug. and Dec. of 2021. An internal investigation further revealed more losses including several hundred Oxycodone tablets.

The following January, a Virginia Department of Health inspector found that the pharmacy failed to separate expired drugs from their working stock, and 30 out of the 100 bottles reviewed were expired.

Then, in Feb. 2022, a board inspector found 61 prescription errors out of 200 prescriptions. This included incorrect refills, prescriber addresses and instructions.

Employees reported to the board feeling “routinely understaffed” with “no time to complete day-to-day maintenance.”

A number of health and safety issues were also recorded.

In the consent order, a representative for CVS confirmed these issues have been taken care of.

In an email sent to 10 News, a representative for CVS said:

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy regarding years-old allegations involving our pharmacies in Salem. We look forward to working with the Board on these matters moving forward and continuing to provide safe, high-quality pharmacy care to our patients.

We’re committed to ensuring there are appropriate levels of staffing and resources at our pharmacies and are making targeted investments, including enabling teams to schedule additional support as needed, enhancing pharmacist and technician recruitment and hiring, and strengthening pharmacy technician training. We’re also making roughly $1 billion in wage increases for pharmacists between 2021 and 2024 and are also awarding roughly $70 million in bonuses to recognize and thank our pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other frontline colleagues this year.

The allegations stem from several years ago (dating as far back as 2021). Today, our Salem, VA is fully staffed with pharmacists and technicians, has a strong pharmacy manager and team in place, and is providing high-quality care to its patients. There are no plans to close this store.”


All documents from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy related to this store can be found here.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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