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    CVS Caremark to impose surcharges at pharmacies selling tobacco

    CVS Health recently announced that, starting next year, it may charge additional copays to patients who fill prescriptions at pharmacies that sell tobacco products.

    A company spokesperson, Carolyn Castel, said the $15 tobacco surcharge is an option insurance companies and employers can choose or reject. She said the surcharge amount would vary according to the client. The surcharges would be implemented by Caremark, the pharmacy benefits manager owner by CVS Health.

    CVS pharmacy sales offset lost tobacco revenues

    Earlier this year, CVS pulled removed tobacco products from all of its stores. CVS said the surcharge idea was prompted by employers and health plans that have inquired about a tobacco-free network. However, some analysts and industry insiders point to other motives.

    “CVS retail drugstore business will certainly benefit, because prescription volume will shift into CVS retail pharmacies from other drugstore chains,” said Adam Fein of Pembroke Consulting. “Today, Caremark’s PBM pays for almost one-third of the prescriptions filled at CVS’s retail pharmacies. This program will further increase the volume staying within CVS Health’s integrated payer and dispensing system.”

    Mark Lowery, Editor
    Mark Lowery an Editor for Drug Topics magazine.

    11 Comments

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    • Dr. Phil Hopkins
      And that bully tactic on Caremark's part is fully warranted since the other chains want to play business as usual. I listened to the cry baby executive "we'll lose sales if we get rid of cigarettes" arguement for years and finially one company got up the courage to actually follow through. CVS is not getting all the accolades for doing something that was way overdue, they are getting the accolades for being the first to finally stand up and do something that long needed doing at moment when everyone was sure there was no integrity left in profit-bonus executive management. Now it's time for the other chains/grocery stores to rise to the occasion as well. As for the other outlandish beer/wine and candy bars citations: a candy bar or a beer (or ever two or three) are not bad in and of themselves unless that is all you are consuming and then your dietary choices needs to be addressed. Cigarettes, on the other hand, have abolutely zero health/nutritional benefit of any kind (save possibly for the Parkinson's connection mentioned in Thank You For Smoking and taken from real research). Given the mountain of evidence related to tobacco and disease the fact any place--especially those supposedly dedicated to health--is still selling such products in the 21st century is both astounding and irresponsible. CVS-Caremark has my support on this one.
    • SteveAriens
      I believe that Caremark operates as a licensed insurance company which means they are exempt from Sherman Antitrust by the McCarren Ferguson Act.. Now that CVS Pharmacy is under the same umbrella as Caremark.. does this mean that the pharmacy operation enjoys the same exemption ? god help us if it does
    • Anonymous
      What will CVS/Caremark do when Express Scripts responds by charging fees for pharmacies that sell candy bars and beer??
    • Anonymous
      Bullying, Greed, No Ethics. Let's add some beer and wine to the prescription. Now we have a CVS "Look how good we did" Folks, they want everybody's money!
    • Anonymous
      Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto to the previous 6 replies. Why does everyone make CVS out to be a hero for doing the right thing, 30 years late. The only reason they want a cigarette surcharge is to keep Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, Walmart and grocery chains from selling cigarettes or force them into an embarrassing law suit. Let the big boys fight while we kick their butts as "real" pharmacies.
    • Anonymous
      I must call BS on CVS. All high and mighty now that they just recently got on the anti-smoking band wagon. How many people did they contribute to killing for decades? Worse than politicians.
    • Anonymous
      Community pharmacies as early as the 1970's and early 1980's refused to sell tobacco products because it was the right thing to do, not for cheap publicity to appear like "do-gooders". Sorry, 4 decades too late and too late for those who suffered from lung cancer and cardiovascular events due to their sales. Nice try, CVS.
    • Mr. JKluge
      I owned an Independent Pharmacy from 1967-2012. For the first five years I too sold cigarettes; however I realized that I was sending the wrong message by doing so. I disposed of my inventory in the garbage; unlike CVS who announced they were phasing them out over approximately nine months. They were praised for their bold action, however they seem to have taken the profits. I can not help but feel that CVS is a first class HYPOCRITE.
    • Anonymous
      Why is everyone BLIND! CVS Pharmacy and CVS CAREMARK. Of course they will issue penalties to pharmacies that sell tobacco...why? because CVS had inside information that this was coming and did it ahead of time. This scares patients into using CVS. Im sure if the government would look deeper they would also see illegal communications between Caremark and CVS in regards to billing and price fixing. CVS is not special or better than the thousands of other pharmacies that never sold a pack of cigarettes at their business. Suddenly CVS eliminates cigarettes and the press praises them like they are Pharmaceutical Gods. Let me also state that I was just in Las Vegas and the light up sign for their store states the following...CVS Pharmacy Open 24 Hours Discount Liquor and Beer. How do you respond to the selling of alcohol CVS? Would you ring up a prescription for xanax, oxycodone, and whiskey? Such a bunch of BS. I cant take it. Open your eyes people
    • Anonymous
      Bravo! Absolutely, they are a sack of hypocrites! I stopped accepting CVS/Caremark years ago, they have always had unethical business practices.
    • Anonymous
      Gee, I wonder why they haven't been imposing a surcharge all these years. They don't have the sack to charge the patient who is smoking, so they contrive yet another ruse to force people into the long lines and poor service that are a hallmark of CVS.