CVS Caremark settles with FTC, HHS concerning 2006 disposal of patient information
WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has announced that it has settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights concerning disposal of patient information at its retail pharmacy stores.
CVS Caremark has denied engaging in any wrongful conduct and agreed to settle the matter in order to avoid the time and expense of further legal proceedings. CVS Caremark also stated that it is not aware of any consumer harm arising out of, or related to, the alleged incidents.
The investigation was prompted by media reports from 2006 about alleged incidents of inadvertent disposal of patient information in dumpsters at a limited number of CVS/pharmacy locations in a manner that was inconsistent with the company’s waste disposal procedures.
The probe was initiated before the merger between CVS and Caremark and involved CVS/pharmacy retail locations only and did not relate to the PBM business. The company stated that it responded to these reports by promptly enhancing its retail waste disposal policies and training programs, and instituted a chain-wide shredding program for confidential waste to further guard against inadvertent disposal of confidential information in the regular trash.
Boston bans tobacco sales in retail pharmacies
A few months after San Francisco drug stores cleared their inventories of anything with tobacco, a city on the opposite side of the country passed a similar ban. Boston has banned tobacco sales in retail pharmacies as well, but its ban covers all stores that operate pharmacies, not just drug stores.
While Walgreens sued San Francisco over its ban, alleging discrimination, it has accepted the one in Boston without complaint. Health officials in San Francisco might want to pay a little attention to what’s happening in Boston because it could help them save a few pennies on legal fees.
Pharmacy’s role in health reform
WASHINGTON “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” That dictum, attributed to Ben Franklin, could apply to the increasingly urgent campaign by a wide-ranging assortment of pharmacy and retail advocacy groups to speak with one voice in policymaking circles. In the midst of an economic crisis, a dysfunctional healthcare system in dire need of new cost-saving solutions and a revolution in technology and communications, pharmacy leaders from every practice setting are acutely aware of the need for a united front.
That goes double when making pharmacy’s case for a larger and fully integrated role in the healthcare system of the future. When the leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and other organizations appeal to lawmakers in Congress amid debates about health reform and health information technology, they’re also making their case in the court of public opinion.
Dealing with congressional staffers on Capitol Hill is just as challenging. Given the complexity of such issues as fair pharmacy reimbursement, patient privacy, health IT, medication therapy management and coordination of care, it’s essential that the disparate and sometimes competing stakeholders that represent all aspects of pharmacy put aside their differences and “hang together.”
“The future direction of the industry hinges on the willingness of NACDS members to engage in the public policy debates of the day, since affecting our short- and long-term future is the primary reason we all choose to participate in associations like this one,” said NACDS chairman and Katz Group North America CEO Andy Giancamilli at the recent NACDS Regional Chain Conference. “But now we need even more members to engage in powering the NACDS advocacy engine.”