New CVS Prescription Plan Benefits Tobacco-Free Companies – Like CVS

CVS Health made waves in the pharmacy industry earlier this year with their announced cessation of tobacco sales. Now, they are drawing fire over a prescription plan that features higher co-pays for prescriptions filled at tobacco-vending pharmacies.

The plan, which has already been adopted by the city of Philadelphia, would give patients a discount as high as $15 per prescription if patients fill them at pharmacies in the “smoke-free” network including CVS pharmacies, of course, but also some local pharmacies as well as retail giant Target Corp. Customers at larger rival chains such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, which have chosen not to end tobacco sales, would pay the higher out-of-pocket cost.

For some smaller pharmacies, the plan could jeopardize their sales even if they don’t sell tobacco products – without sufficient marketing to advertise their smoke-free status, customers may choose to visit a verified smoke-free pharmacy to avoid the risk of higher co-pays.

CVS Health’s vice president of corporate communications explained that the network developed at the request of Caremark clients, but that hasn’t stopped a backlash from independent pharmacy associations and concerns that CVS Health will be reducing competitiveness if customers are pushed toward using CVS pharmacies for their prescriptions.

It remains to be seen whether more clients will sign on to a smoke-free network, but CVS Health assures that those who do will be provided with a full list of smoke-free pharmacies that their plan members can visit.

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