CVS Is Under Fire for Refusing to Let Shoppers Do This

The fallout could even affect your future trips to the pharmacy.

With nearly 10,000 stores in 49 states around the country, CVS is going to ruffle some feathers among customers no matter what decisions its employees and corporate executives make. But one set of prohibitions established at the store level have landed the huge pharmacy chain at the center of legal crossfire—and CVS is going to have to answer for these decisions in court. Read on to find out what CVS refused to do for a customer, and how the fallout could even affect you in the future.

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A potentially precedent-setting case against CVS will go forward.

CVS Pharmacy prescription medicine drop off pickup counter, Saugus Massachusetts USA, March 6, 2019

A class-action lawsuit against CVS for refusing to fill high-dose opioid prescriptions for a patient can go forward. So ruled a federal judge this week in development in the legal proceedings reported by Pain News Network. CVS had moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but it lost that battle.

While Judge William Smith agreed to drop CVS Caremark as a defendant in the lawsuit, he ruled the rest of the case can continue—and it could set a major precedent.

A patient sued CVS for refusing to fill her pain medicine prescriptions on many occasions.

CVS Pharmacy Logo

This specific case concerns a Florida patient named Edith Fuog. She is a breast cancer survivor with a constellation of medical ailments including trigeminal neuralgia, lupus, arthritis and other chronic pain conditions, according to the Pain News Network report.

Fuog had sued CVS back in 2020, when she said the company discriminated against her and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its refusal to fill her prescriptions. She filed the complaint in Rhode Island, where CVS is headquartered.

In her lawsuit, the patient alleges that CVS pharmacists refused to fill her high-dose opioid prescriptions dozens of times because the daily doses exceeded the threshold considered to be risky under the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines established in 2016. This guideline is technically voluntary, but healthcare providers often enforce it.

Legally, pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions they consider dubious. But they should take action to verify the prescription's legitimacy, like calling the patient's doctor. In her lawsuit, the Florida patient says CVS showed a willingness to neither call her doctor nor even to probe her medical records.

Judge Smith ruled that Fuog was legally qualified as a disabled person and needed the higher dose to treat her pain. "Ms. Fuog has pleaded sufficient facts for the Court to conclude that it is plausible that prescriptions over the threshold are generally denied meaningful access to this benefit, and also disproportionally or predominantly disabled," the judge wrote.

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Patient advocates say the ruling is an important step for pain sufferers.

CVS Pharmacy located inside a Target store; CVS Health acquired Target Corporation's pharmacy and retail clinic businesses

While opioids—and their makers and distributors—have been under the spotlight for years, this case, along with a similar lawsuit against Walgreen's, are the first known class-action cases to address patients' complaints that pharmacies have withheld their drugs in this manner.

"It's ridiculous that this woman went to 30 different pharmacies and couldn't get her prescription refilled. That is highly problematic," civil rights lawyer Kate Nicholson, who is now the executive director of the National Pain Advocacy Center, told Pain News Network.

This case is unique amid a blizzard of legal proceedings related to opioids in the U.S.

CVS Pharmacy Retail Location. CVS is the Largest Pharmacy Chain in the US I

While this case is unique and potentially precedent-setting, opioid lawsuits of another stripe are far from new. In fact, pharmacies including CVS face multiple lawsuits for prescribing too many of the pain pills in the midst of a national addiction crisis.

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Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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