CVS Accused of "Intentionally Lying" to Customers About Their Prescriptions
Lawmakers claim that the drugstore chain isn't being honest about 90-day prescriptions.
CVS is one of the largest drugstore chains in the U.S., with many of us relying on our local store for everyday necessities and, of course, medication. CVS makes it fairly simple to keep tabs on your prescriptions through the CVS mobile app, providing updates when your meds are ordered, filled, and ready for pickup. But while the drugstore chain is transparent about this process, a group of lawmakers are now alleging that CVS is "intentionally lying" to customers about their prescriptions. Read on to find out why they claim CVS is spreading "misinformation."
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CVS sent out letters saying that Oklahomans can no longer receive 90-day prescriptions.
Picking up prescriptions isn't usually too much of a hassle, but it's more convenient if you don't have to head to the pharmacy as often. That's why 90-day prescriptions are so popular: You only have to refill and pickup your medication every three months. This option also saves time for patients who need doctor authorization before each refill, Fox23 News reported.
Now, however, CVS told customers in Oklahoma that 90-day prescriptions were no longer an option for them.
Last month, some customers received a letter from CVS Caremark, the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) for CVS Health, explaining that they would no longer receive 90-day prescription refills, KFOR reported. This primarily affected Oklahoma employees who work for companies outside of Oklahoma, but according to Fox23 News, some retirees also received letters saying they can only get 30-day supplies.
CVS said the change is a result of a law passed by the Oklahoma legislature in 2019: the Patient's Right to Pharmacy Choice Act. The law was enacted to let customers fill prescriptions at the drugstore of their choosing, prohibiting PBMs like CVS Caremark from steering them to their affiliated pharmacies, per Tulsa World.
But according to lawmakers, this legislation has no effect on 90-day prescriptions.
Officials say CVS is "intentionally lying."
Following an influx of calls from confused citizens, a group of Oklahoma lawmakers held a press conference on Monday, April 24.
"Let me be as direct as I know how to be," House Majority Floor Leader John Echols said, per KFOR. "The state of Oklahoma did not get rid of the ability to fill 90-day prescriptions. Anyone that says that is not misinformed, they don't misunderstand. They are intentionally lying to you, and we're not going to stand for it."
Representative Marcus McEntire claimed that the move is actually a business decision on CVS' part and that the company "needs to own it."
"We knew that the regulations that we passed, we knew that would result in blowback from the industry, the pharmacy benefit industry, and we are seeing that now," McEntire said, per Fox23 News.
Senator Greg McCourtney slammed CVS for "lying to" older adults who need medication.
"When you start lying to senior citizens about their ability to get their medicine, about their ability to pay for their medicine, then you drag someone who tries really hard not to be in the press room down to the press room," McCourtney said.
Best Life reached out to CVS for comment on the issue, and will update the story with their response.
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Oklahoma officials have reportedly been going back and forth with CVS for years.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) is also involved in the dispute, and Commissioner Glen Mulready noted that he's been working with CVS since 2019 when the Patient's Right to Pharmacy Choice Act was passed.
Mulready claimed that CVS has not been consistent when explaining the rationale behind its decision to stop allowing 90-day prescriptions.
"When I go to them [to fix] this issue, it's a technical and contractual issue with their employers," Mulready said. "They tell me they can't fix that until next year. This is one of the largest companies in the world, a hundreds of billions of dollar company—you tell me you can't put resources towards that to get that fixed quickly for Oklahoma consumers? I find that disingenuous at best."
Officials claim this isn't the first time that CVS Caremark has violated the law. Fox 23 News reports that over the past two years, the OID has received over 100 complaints from patients who allege CVS Caremark required them to use an affiliated pharmacy.
Now, the OID is taking action. On May 25, the department will ask a judge to suspend or revoke CVS Caremark's PBM license in Oklahoma.
CVS said it's working with the OID and lawmakers.
For its part, CVS Health said that it's working with Oklahoma officials to address ongoing issues.
"We share the commitment of Commissioner Mulready and Oklahoma lawmakers to protecting Oklahomans' access to affordable prescription drugs, and we look forward to continued dialogue with the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) and our clients to advance that shared goal," the company said in a statement to News 9.
"The OID recently determined that legislation enacted in 2019 is applicable to prescription benefits for certain multistate or national employers headquartered outside the state of Oklahoma," the statement continued. "We have discussed with the OID our concerns about the impact changing uniform benefit design could have on consumers who rely on 90-day prescriptions. We continue to discuss this matter with the Commissioner and look forward to resolving this situation with OID to avoid any interruption to patient benefits and protect Oklahomans' access to affordable prescription drugs."