CVS Caremark Violates HIPAA, TX Pharmacies Allege

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 8, 2010

Patient information gathered from non-CVS pharmacies includes names, addresses, birth dates, medical diagnoses, prescription histories, and prescribing physicians. CVS Caremark mines the accumulated patient- and pharmacy-specific data to identify individual patient buying practices, their physicians' prescribing practices, and individual pharmacy business volume, the suit alleges.

  American Pharmacies says patients report being forced, via higher copayments and refusal to cover maintenance medications, to leave their pharmacy where the patient and pharmacist have a professional and personal relationship. Other patients report moving to a CVS Caremark network pharmacy out of fear of losing all health insurance coverage, the suit alleges.

Woonsocket, RI-based CVS Caremark contacts patients via direct mail and phone calls about their prescriptions, urging, and in some cases mandating, plaintiffs' patients to use CVS Caremark retail or mail order stores. The patients' physicians also are targeted to change prescribing practices to include drugs from CVS Caremark-favored drug makers, the suit alleges.

  "The defendants have an ambitious plan to take over 200 independent pharmacies per year," Fields said. "Taking trade secrets from their competitors' business records and excluding plaintiffs from CVS Caremark's pharmacy networks plays right into their plan. Knowing just how vulnerable a non-CVS pharmacy may be puts that pharmacy squarely in CVS Caremark's crosshairs."

The American Pharmacies plaintiffs want triple damages for the RICO violations, and an injunction barring CVS Caremark's practices in the future. The trade secret misappropriation claim includes a request for exemplary damages.

The Texas plaintiffs are:

  •    Rogers Pharmacy, Victoria;
  •    Brookshire Bros. Pharmacy of Kirbyville;
  •    Hometown Pharmacy, Fairfield;
  •    Hibbs Pharmacy, Bay City;
  •    Kinsey's Pharmacy, Tyler; and
  •    De La Rosa Pharmacy, Weslaco.

See also:

CVS Works on Patient Privacy Improvements Following Fine

CVS says it is subject of FTC investigation


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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