CVS Class Action Lawsuit Says Pharmacy Forces Customers to Buy Opioid Overdose Drug

CVS Class Action Lawsuit Says Pharmacy Forces Customers to Buy Opioid Overdose Drug

A recent CVS class action lawsuit claims the pharmacy forces consumers to purchase opioid overdose reversal meds when filling opiate prescriptions.

Plaintiff Lisa L. Lee claims CVS unlawfully requires consumers to purchase expensive opioid reversal medications in order to fill their prescriptions for opioid drugs. According to Lee, the reversal drug adds significant costs to a consumer’s purchase.

“In order to fill a prescription for a medication containing opioids, such as hydrocodone-acetaminophen, CVS forces consumers to simultaneously purchase a prescribed medication, Naloxone or similar drug, designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose,” Lee contends in her CVS class action lawsuit.

Naloxone, one of the most prominent opioid reversal medications, is an effective drug which works to reverse an opioid overdose almost immediately after being injected or inhaled via nasal spray. Lee notes that first responders and trained bystanders can effectively prevent tragedy by using the drug to reverse an overdose.

However, Lee notes that the drug “can cost more than fifty times the actual opioid pain relief prescription.” By forcing patients to purchase these drugs in order to fill their opioid prescription, CVS allegedly causes significant financial burden to their customers.

Pile of pills on black surfaceLee allegedly experienced the issue in March 2020. After she broke her nose, she was prescribed Vicodin by an emergency room doctor.

She was also provided a prescription for Narcan, a brand name for Naloxone, although she was not required to fill the medication.

When she went to her local CVS to fill her prescription, Lee reportedly told the pharmacy she didn’t want to fill her Narcan prescription.

Even though her Vicodin prescription only cost $0.71 for 10 pills, the CVS employee allegedly forced her to purchase a Narcan nasal spray for $121.80.

“Plaintiff, who had just left the emergency room and was experiencing significant pain had no choice but to rely on Defendants’ representations,” the CVS class action lawsuit claims.

“She had no meaningful choice but to purchase the Narcan for $121.80 in order to purchase her pain medications, and therefore incurred actual financial losses due the unlawful conduct of Defendants.”

According to the CVS class action lawsuit, Lee’s experiences were not unique. Instead, the pharmacy allegedly maintains policies which force all patients to purchase an opioid overdose reversal medication when filling opioid prescriptions.

Lee argues that CVS accomplishes their misleading scheme by wielding their significant “market power” to set costly prices for opioid overdose reversal medications. As a result, consumers are allegedly forced to pay a high price not only at CVS but also at other pharmacies due to the schemes alleged “anti-competitive effect on the market.”

“CVS purposefully misuses its market power to force consumers to purchase opioid overdose reversal medication in order to fill lawfully prescribed and medically necessary prescriptions for pain medication,” the CVS class action lawsuit claims.

The CVS class action lawsuit argues that the pharmacy’s actions violate California state law. Specifically, CVS allegedly violates a law that states pharmacies “shall not obstruct a patient in obtaining a prescription drug or device that has been legally prescribed or ordered for that patient.” By putting significant financial strain on patients, CVS allegedly obstructs their customers’ ability to obtain the medications they were prescribed.

Lee also references another California state law that requires opioid prescribers to offer prescriptions for opioid-overdose reversal drugs. Although the law requires prescribers to give patients the option to purchase these drugs, it is not required in order to fill an opioid prescription.

Despite knowing the true terms of the state law, CVS allegedly misrepresents to their customers that they are required by law to purchase an overdose reversal drug when filing opioid prescriptions. These representations are allegedly false and misleading. Lee argues that, as a result, she and other consumers have suffered from financial injury.

Lee seeks to represent a Class of consumers in California who purchase opioid medicine from CVS and were required to purchase an opioid overdose reversal medication in order to fill the opioid prescription. On behalf of this proposed Class, Lee seeks punitive damages, compensatory damages, restitution, disgorgement, interest, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

Were you prescribed opioid medications? Were you forced by CVS to purchase opioid reversal medications? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Lee and the proposed Class are represented by Michael D. Singer and Kristina De La Rosa of Cohelan Khoury & Singer.

The CVS Opioid Class Action Lawsuit is Lisa L. Lee v. CVS Pharmacy Inc., et al., Case No. 37-2020-000228843-CU-BT-CTL, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego.

While I am not an attorney, there is part of the Sherman Antitrust Act – Tying Commerce  – which states that it illegal to force anyone to purchase something that they don’t want in order to be able to purchase something that they do want.  If a pt wants to have Narcan on hand, many state health depts will provide it to people AT NO CHARGE.

2 Responses

  1. Great to hear someone else mention the Sherman Anti-Trust Act…I’d begun to think it was some sort of delusion from my middle school classes; monopolies sure seem to be taking over everything. They did used to be illegal, right? That was part of Sherman?

    Anyway, I’m glad someone is doing this, tho I’ve been forced by my doctor(s) to fill a narcan prescription in order to get pain meds, but somehow doubt I’d be able to sue them. At least subsequent doctors haven’t forced me buy multiples of Narcan; the one sitting in my cabinet (which will sit there, unused, forever) is sufficient for a while, until someone notices from my PDMP that it must have expired.

    • Insurance companies are exempt from sherman antitrust act by the McCarren Ferguson act and under the CVS Health “corporate umbrella” there is three different licensed insurance companies Caremark, Silver Scripts, Aetna.. CVS Health may be trying to “push the envelope” that exemption to cover transactions by its pharmacy division. I am sure that if there is a “legal loophole”… CVS will crawl thru it 🙁

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