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    Doing well by doing good: Corporate pharmacy shows you how

    David StanleySometimes there's nothing like a good cop show on TV, and as the deadline for this month's column approaches, I've wasted most of the afternoon remembering some of my favorites. There was a time in the ’90s when I never missed an episode of a series most famous for pushing the boundaries of what broadcast television would tolerate in terms of nudity and salty language. It wasn't seeing an occasional bare bottom or hearing words usually reserved for the locker room that drew me to the show, though. It was the writing.

    If you paid attention, there was always a larger theme to the week's cases, as in the episode when a suspect's parents turned him in solely to collect reward money to feed their drug habit, while another was shielded from the police because his friends truly — and incorrectly, as it turned out — believed him to be innocent.

    A situation in which the right thing was done for a bad reason and the wrong thing was done for a good one. Brilliant. And now that I think about it, I wonder whether any of the writers for that old show went on to work for the former CVS/Caremark, now known as CVS Health.

    Nix the nicotine

    For those of you who haven't heard, the PBM side of the company announced at the end of October that it will form a “tobacco-free” network of pharmacies that will require a patient to cough up an extra co-pay, reported to be as much as $15, to fill a prescription at any pharmacy that sells tobacco products. This comes after the announcement made earlier this year, with much fanfare, that tobacco would no longer be sold at CVS stores.

    So CVS Health stops selling tobacco and then develops a plan that would charge people extra for going to a competing pharmacy that does. Evidently the company that pledged to be “agnostic” about where prescriptions are filled when the CVS/Caremark merger was under review has now found religion.

    It's hard to see this move as anything other than a cynical, albeit brilliant, ploy to use the power that comes with being simultaneously one of the country's largest pharmacy chains and one of its largest pharmacy benefit managers to damage the other “Big Two” of the chain pharmacy world, Walgreen's and Rite Aid, both of which continue to sell tobacco at their thousands of stores.

    David Stanley, RPh
    David Stanley is a pharmacy owner, blogger, and professional writer in northern California. Contact him at [email protected]

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    • STEVENFFLETCHER
      This will be really a great move by CVS to stop the selling of tobacco; tobacco is definitely a worst addiction by human being it brings several kinds of negative health problems. In most of occasion we have found that government also promotes the ban on tobacco and spread the awareness program among people; which ultimately protect the concept of human health and hazards. http://www.certifiedcoaches.com/health-&-wellness-coaches.html
    • Anonymous
      I still can't say I'm impressed by CVS big move to stop selling tobacco. Most "Mom-and-Pop" independents stopped selling it 40 years ago, and it wasn't a corporate financial decision then, it was just good for our patients. What took you so long, CVS?
    • Anonymous
      I admit my furrowed brow when I first heard the no-cig hype from CVS early on, wondering what was up their collective sleeve, especially since the withdrawal of tobacco products was not to be immediate. Sadly, subsequent events have solidified my view that the health of their customers is secondary to that of their pocketbooks.
    • Anonymous
      As a pharmacist who luckily only works part time for CVS I don't feel that they have the patients' well being in mind, Sure they stopped selling tobacco but they never have enough staff so that even 1/2 the new prescriptions filled are counselled. Also the new law making Hydrocodone a CII has added at least a couple of hours more paperwork and they don't let their techs count them, but they haven't added any hours to compensate even though there are pharmacists available. It is all about corporate profits and maybe bonuses for district managers based on money they saved the company.
    • ROBERTLEWINTER
      Are they still selling alcohol?