A proposed class action lawsuit alleges CVS Pharmacy purposely misuses its market power to force consumers to buy pricey opioid overdose reversal medication as a condition to fill lawfully prescribed and medically necessary pain medication prescriptions.
Filed in San Diego County Superior Court, the complaint claims defendants CVS Pharmacy and CVS Health Corporation mandate that consumers looking to fill a prescription for a medicine containing opioids, such as hydrocodone-acetaminophen, must simultaneously buy another medication, such as Naloxone or a similar drug, designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. According to the suit, opioid overdose reversal medications can cost more than 50 times the price of a consumer’s opioid-containing pain relief medicine.
Although CVS represents to consumers that it’s a requirement to buy overdose reversal medication alongside a prescribed opioid-containing pain reliever, and that the pharmacy cannot and will not fill a prescription should a customer refuse to buy both, the defendant cannot legally impose such a requirement, the plaintiff says.
“Defendants’ representations are false,” the complaint reads. “In reality, a pharmacy cannot refuse to fill a lawfully prescribed medication, nor can it impose the requirement to purchase additional medications as a condition for filling an opioid prescription.”
Per the case, a California law put into effect in January 2019 requires opioid prescribers to also offer prescriptions for opioid overdose reversal drugs. The suit says, however, that the law, a section of California’s Business and Professions Code, does not impose a requirement that a patient fill and buy a prescription for opioid overdose reversal medicine as a condition of filling an otherwise lawful prescription.
As the lawsuit tells it, CVS has chosen to wield its market power as a means to get consumers to pay costly prices set by the company for opioid reversal drugs, financially injuring buyers and reducing competition on the market. The suit alleges CVS’s conduct has foreclosed consumers from buying opioid overdose reversal medications from the defendants’ competitors.
With regard to the plaintiff, the case says the woman suffered a broken nose and was prescribed 10 hydrocodone-acetaminophen pain reliever pills, which contain an opioid, and Narcan, a brand-name overdose reversal nasal spray. When she attempted to fill her pain reliever prescription, costing $0.71 for 10 pills, the plaintiff was told she the law required her to also buy Narcan nasal spray for $121.80, according to the case.
“Plaintiff, who had just left the emergency room and was experiencing significant pain had no choice but to rely on Defendants’ representations,” the case alleges. “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 [sic] the unlawful conduct of Defendants.”
The suit looks to represent consumers in California who within the last four years bought opioid medicine from CVS and were required to also buy an opioid reversal medication in order to fill the prescription.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s newsletter here.