N.C. Pharmacies Sue CVS Caremark

Three North Carolina pharmacies filed a class action suit against CVS Caremark for violating the North Carolina Pharmacy of Choice Act and for unfair and deceptive business practices.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three North Carolina pharmacies filed a class action suit against CVS Caremark for violating the North Carolina Pharmacy of Choice Act and for unfair and deceptive business practices.

The class action complaint was filed on Jan. 3 by independents — Burton’s Pharmacy, Pike’s Pharmacy and Dilworth Drug, located in Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The independents allege that in its role as a prescription benefit manager (PBM), CVS Caremark obtained private information about patients from independent pharmacies and then used that information to cause patients to purchase their medicine at CVS, rather than at the independent pharmacies.

The complaint also alleges that CVS Caremark’s conduct violates the Pharmacy of Choice statute enacted in North Carolina by creating disincentives for a patient to access the pharmacy of his or her own choice. For example, CVS Caremark’s “Maintenance Choice” program appears to require patients to fill their prescriptions for maintenance medications only at CVS Caremark-owned retail and mail pharmacies or be denied coverage and reimbursement.

CVS Caremark is the subject of an investigation by a multi-state task force led by various state Attorneys General, who are investigating the relationship and business practices of CVS and Caremark following their 2007 merger. The Federal Trade Commission has been probing CVS Caremark's business practices since at least August 2009.