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RITE AID AGREES TO COUPONS

A one-time discount of 15 percent on cash prescriptions will be offered within the next three months at Rite Aids 75 Oregon stores including the store in Harbor.

Rite Aid Corporation, based in Camp Hill, Pa., agreed to dole out thousands of discount coupons as part of a recent Assurance of Voluntary Compliance agreement filed in Marion County.

The agreement came at the end of a sixth-month inquiry into pricing practices by the Oregon Department of Justice.

Department investigators determined that Rite Aid pharmacists were authorized to charge customers more than the customary price identified by the pharmacys computer, officials said.

Certain cash-paying senior customers of Rite Aid were targeted by some pharmacists in an unusual billing practice in which consumers believed they were receiving discounts for prescription medicine, Myers said. In fact, an undisclosed additional charge diminished or completely erased the value of any discount.

The problem was brought to the attention of Myers office by the Florida Attorney Generals Office after Rite Aid moved into Oregon, officials said.

In a statement issued Monday, Myers said that although Rite Aid discontinued the pricing practices in 1998, the department of justice negotiated the agreement to prevent the practice from being reinstituted and to hold Rite Aid accountable for its past behavior.

The compliance agreement admits no violations of law, officials said.

The discount coupons will be offered to cash paying customers only. Customers with health insurance, including Medicaid, that pays for their prescriptions are not eligible, said Sarah Datz, manager of public relations for Rite Aid.

The coupons will be offered at the stores and in the Sunday edition of The Oregonian, The Statesman Journal in Salem, The Register-Guard in Eugene and The Bulletin in Bend

In addition to offering the coupons, Rite Aid will also give $25,000 to the justice departments consumer protection and education fund.

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