CVS accused of patient steering

A majority of community pharmacies have lost patients in the last six months due to unfair patient steering, and CVS Health is most often the culprit, the National Community Pharmacists Association claims

The NCPA conducted a survey of 412 community pharmacies between Sept. 8 and Sept. 11 and found that 79 percent of community pharmacies said patient steering happened with one or more of their patients in the past six months, and almost 78 percent said some of their patients then moved their prescriptions to CVS. 

Patient steering happens when an insurance company moves a patient's prescriptions to a different pharmacy without their knowledge or consent. 

CVS Health owns insurance companies Aetna and Caremark. NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said that because CVS owns pharmacies and insurance companies, that "allows it to eavesdrop on when and where patients are getting their prescriptions and, as the survey reported, coerce unknowing patients into CVS stores."

A CVS spokesperson told The Bryan Times the NCPA's claims that CVS is steering patients away from community pharmacies are false. 

"Our pharmacies only initiate prescription transfers when requested by a patient," the spokesperson said. "In fact, more than 40% of the pharmacies in our network are independently owned. If a plan sponsor chooses a particular network design that includes specific pharmacies, their members are notified in advance."

"Accusations that we transferred patients' prescriptions to our own pharmacies without their knowledge or consent are simply not true," he added. 

Community pharmacies are losing patients. Barry Klein, who owns a community pharmacy in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, said his pharmacy is losing 300 or 400 patients a month. 

"It's hard to say what was the cause of it, but definitely our patient count is down," he told The Bryan Times.

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