Judge Sides with HIV Patients in CVS Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit

cvs hiv discrimination class action lawsuit

CVS Sued for Denying Choice in HIV Medication Distribution

A California judge has thrown a lifeline to HIV patients battling CVS in a long-running lawsuit. The case accuses the pharmacy giant of discrimination by forcing them to use mail-order services for critical medications. This decision allows the case to move forward, potentially impacting thousands of patients nationwide.

Caremark policy poses obstacle to effective HIV care

The class action lawsuit takes aim at a specific CVS Caremark policy. Patients with certain conditions, including HIV, are often required to use their mail-order program for specialized medications. But what sounds convenient can become a major hurdle for proper HIV care. Here's why patients say the program falls short:

  • No Pharmacist in Sight: Imagine not being able to consult a pharmacist in person about medication interactions, side effects, or how to manage potential complications. That's the reality for patients forced into mail-order.

  • Missed Doses, Missed Care: Mail-order deliveries can be unpredictable, leading to missed doses or delays in receiving life-saving medications.

  • Privacy Concerns: Having medications delivered to your doorstep raises serious concerns about theft or damage, especially for medications as crucial as those used to manage HIV.

  • ADAP Roadblocks: The mail-order system can make it difficult to participate in government assistance programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

Patients struggle with the CVS mail-order program

The lawsuit isn't just about legalese; it has a real impact on people's lives. Take plaintiff John Doe One (whose name is kept confidential) for example. Diagnosed with HIV in 1998, John relies on medication to manage his condition. In 2015, his world was turned upside down when his local pharmacy abruptly stopped filling his HIV prescriptions.

Forced into the CVS mail-order program despite repeated requests to opt-out, John describes the experience as a "mess." Concerns about medication storage during hot deliveries and the lack of pharmacist consultations added to his anxiety.

But the problems didn't stop there. John also faced financial strain due to difficulties coordinating with ADAP, a program that helps patients afford HIV medications. His story highlights the broader concerns raised in the lawsuit – how the mail-order program creates stress and logistical roadblocks for HIV patients.

John's experience isn't unique. The mail-order program's fragmented approach to medication retrieval adds unnecessary stress to an already complex health situation. As John himself puts it, the program creates a "fractured and splintered" system that only serves to worsen his condition.

Judge rejects CVS's arguments

CVS argued they weren't aware their policy was discriminatory and that the responsibility for offering an opt-out lies with employer health plans. 

However, Judge Edward Chen wasn't convinced. He pointed to evidence where, like John Doe One, numerous patients had requested to opt-out without success. The judge even noted internal CVS studies that raised concerns about the program disproportionately impacting HIV patients, Reuters reports.

Seeking compensation and change

The CVS HIV discrimination class action lawsuit has been a marathon, not a sprint. Initially dismissed in 2018, it was revived by a federal appeals court in 2020. CVS attempted to appeal to the Supreme Court but later dropped their appeal in 2021. Judge Chen's recent ruling allows the lawsuit to proceed.

The plaintiffs are seeking both financial compensation for impacted patients and a court order requiring CVS to change its practices. This could include offering an opt-out option for the mail-order program, ensuring access to pharmacist consultations, and creating a system that facilitates participation in ADAP.

This case highlights the ongoing fight for equal access to healthcare for people living with HIV. The outcome could pave the way for future discussions surrounding mail-order medication programs and patient rights.

The plaintiffs are represented by Edith M. Kallas and Alan M. Mansfield of Whatley Kallas LLP and Jerry Flanagan and Benjamin Powell of Consumer Watchdog.

The CVS HIV discrimination class action lawsuit is John Doe One et al v. CVS Health Corporation et al, Case No. 3:18-cv-1031 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.



Illustration of a mobile device getting an email notification
Our Mission at Injury Claims

Injury Claims keeps you informed about lawsuits large and small that could affect your daily life. We simplify the complexities of class actions lawsuits, open class action settlements, mass torts, and individual cases to ensure you understand how these legal matters could impact your rights and interests.

Legal Updates That Matter to You

If you think a recent legal case might affect you, action is required. Select a class action lawsuit or class action settlement, share your details, and connect with a qualified attorney who will explain your legal options and assist in pursuing any compensation due. Take the first step now to secure your rights.