Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two Things

(Editorial cartoon by Jim Morin/ Miami Herald (March 28, 2013) and featured at McClatchy DC.)

David Lazarus's current column has a couple of powerful lessons for us, lessons which show how things should work in this country.

Susan Segal normally spends about $30 for a three-month supply of a thyroid medication from CVS Caremark's mail-order pharmacy.

Recently, though, CVS sent her a different thyroid drug, which cost $23 more — a 77% increase.

Segal, 56, called to complain. A CVS service rep told the Irvine resident that the pharmacy wasn't trying to pull a fast one. ...

Segal asked whether she could return the Synthroid for a refund. No, the CVS rep replied. Once a drug is shipped, it can't be returned.

Segal asked whether she at least could be charged the lower price she would have paid for Levoxyl. Again, no. All sales are final. ...

Christine Cramer, a CVS Caremark spokeswoman, declined to comment when I asked what rights patients should have in situations like Segal's.

But she said that, in response to my bringing Segal's dissatisfaction to the company's attention, "we are providing a credit for the difference in the co-pay." In other words, she'll be charged what she would have paid for her intended drug order.

That's nice, but it overlooks the fact that CVS did nothing when the customer herself brought up the matter. It was only after the prospect of bad publicity arose that the company was moved to act fairly.   [Emphasis added]

Once again CVS Caremark is caught treating its customers badly.  That's certainly nothing new and indicates an ongoing pattern by the mail order division of the large pharmacy.  In this case, however, they do have an excuse: the manufacturer of the original drug pulled that drug from the market because of complaints that it smelled funny.  CVS called Ms. Segal's doctor and advised him of the problem and requested permission to replace it with Synthroid.  I guess the company is beginning to learn.

Of greater importance to me, however, is that when Lazarus called to ask about the situation, the company decided to act fairly with respect to the customer.  That's what the power of the press is all about, and when that power is exerted fairly and rationally, we benefit.  Now, if we could only get hundreds more journalists acting like David Lazarus instead of like the stenographers on staff at most newspapers, this country would be better off.

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