If you are a CVS Caremark customer, be on the lookout for anti-consumer practices identified by five respected consumer groups who recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to unwind the CVS Caremark Corp. merger. In an April 14, 2011 letter, they say there is “strong evidence” of CVS Caremark’s harm to consumers. Examples include:
-Using confidential patient information collected by Caremark (a pharmacy manager) so CVS pharmacists can solicit non-CVS customers by mail and phone and direct them to fill their prescriptions at CVS stores;
-Switching Medicare beneficiaries to CVS stores with an increased co-pay and bringing them to the Part D “donut” hole” (when they must pay out of pocket) prematurely; and
-Using the “Maintenance Choice” program which forces consumers to fill their prescriptions at CVS stores or by mail, in order to avoid paying an increased co-pay to fill their 90 day or maintenance prescriptions at non-CVS locations.
The consumer groups highlighted the widespread impact these practices can have, given that CVS Caremark deals with over 40% of all consumers.
The FTC is reportedly investigating these practices and, according to CVS Caremark, attorneys general in 24 states are conducting similar investigations.
Abbey Spanier will continue to monitor these investigations and will report any significant developments.