Wave Of Praise For CVS Decision To Stop Selling Cigarettes; What’s Next?



From President Obama to the American Medical Association, praise is ringing through the land for CVS Caremark’s announcement today that it will stop selling tobacco products even though that will cost the company some $2 billion in revenue. USA Today reports here that CVS found tobacco sales incompatible with its goal of promoting wellness:

“Selling tobacco is very inconsistent with being in that business,” said Helena Foulkes, CVS’s president. “We really thought about this decision as it relates to the future as a health company — it’s good for customers and our company, in the long run.”

Just to highlight a couple of the positive responses:

The Harvard School of Public Health tweets: “CVS will quit selling tobacco–an important step in fighting smoking and improving health. Bravo!”

A statement from Dr. Ronald Dunlap, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, reads in part:

The announcement that CVS Caremark will no longer sell tobacco products in its stores is a welcome and exciting step in the continuing campaign against the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in the United States. Following on the heels of the U.S. Surgeon General’s 50th anniversary report on tobacco issued last month, this decision represents a milestone in tobacco prevention efforts by eliminating the availability of tobacco at more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy locations nationwide.

It has long been the position of the Massachusetts Medical Society that the sale of such products in health care facilities is inconsistent and contradictory with health and well-being.

As a cardiologist for 34 years, I have seen the devastating effects of tobacco on too many patients for far too long. Heart and respiratory diseases, stroke, and other disorders related to smoking have taken a huge toll. Continue reading

CVS Stops Filling Painkiller Prescriptions By ‘Outlier’ Doctors

Rhode-Island-based CVS says it has stopped filling prescriptions for painkillers from doctors who are over-prescribing to an extreme.

CVS began reviewing opioid prescriptions from its almost one million prescribers last fall.

The company found 42 doctors and nurse practitioners who stood out, and shut off 36 who couldn’t or wouldn’t explain why. CVS Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan says the pharmacy hopes to help curb addiction and overdose deaths.

“The outliers were in these circumstances prescribing, 20, 30, up to 50 times as much pain medication as the average prescriber was,” he said. “These were really high outliers.”

Brennan, in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, urges creation of a national prescription database, but some patients worry that expanded monitoring will cut access for legitimate needs.

In April, CVS paid $11 million to settle civil claims that it violated federal drug recording, tracking and dispensing requirements in Oklahoma. CVS says it has new policies in place to deal with the drug cited by the DEA, pseudoephedrine, and is careful with all drugs that can be abused. The company says it does not know of any other pharmacy chain that is analyzing prescription records for signs of abuse.

After Outcry, CVS Revokes Carding Policy For Nail Polish Remover

Consumers are now free to buy nail polish remover at CVS without being carded. (Photo: Rachel Rohr)

Consumers are now free to buy nail polish remover at CVS without being carded. (Photo: Rachel Rohr)

Last week, I had the unexpected experience of having my driver’s license scanned when trying to buy nail polish remover at CVS.

Since writing a post about the experience here, the story spread wildly and thousands of people weighed in on CVS’s new store policy aimed at tracking and limiting sales of products containing acetone or iodine, which are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. (See, also: “Breaking Bad.”)

A new surprise came in my inbox last night, when I received an email from CVS’s public relations director, Mike DeAngelis, informing me that the acetone policy has been revoked in all but one state for acetone, and in all but three states for iodine:

We are committed to ensuring customer convenience while appropriately complying with regulations in our business.

After thoroughly reviewing our policies for the sale of products that contain acetone, in most states we will no longer require customers to present an ID to purchase these products, including nail polish remover. Our stores will be notified about this change by the end of the day today and it will take effect beginning tomorrow.

To comply with certain regulations requiring retailers to record sales of products containing ingredients used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, we will continue to require ID for the purchase of acetone products in Hawaii and the purchase of iodine products in California, Hawaii and West Virginia. Continue reading

Coakley Recovers $2.65 Million From CVS For Overpricing

Attorney General Martha Coakley announced an $2.65 million agreement with CVS over alleged overpricing by the national pharmacy chain, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

An investigation found that the drug chain was overcharging public entities for prescription medications under the workers compensation program. According to a news release from Coakley’s office:

“The city of Boston will receive $60,000 in restitution, and the cities of Brockton, Lowell, Fall River, and Springfield will each receive refunds in excess of $10,000. Other cities and towns will receive lesser amounts, based on the volume of overcharges applicable to those towns. On average, the municipalities will receive approximately $4,500 each.”