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US: How CVS’s war on tobacco could raise antitrust trouble

 |  October 21, 2014

CVS Health Corp. has reportedly launched a new prescription drug plan that encourages customers to fill prescriptions at stores that do not sell tobacco products, like CVS. But according to some antitrust experts, the new incentives could raise antitrust concerns.

Reports say the plan charges prescription refill copays of up to $15 more when customers fill prescriptions at a store that sells tobacco products. Those stores include CVS rivals Walgreens, Rite-Aid and others.

While CVS says the new plan was the product of calls for a tobacco-free pharmacy network, experts say there could be legal trouble ahead as the program could unfairly steer customers towards CVS stores.

Former Federal Trade Commission executive David Balto, who is currently an antitrust attorney, says the pharmacy plan is concerning. “There’s no cost savings that comes about from limiting the network,” he said. “it’s really another effort to limit the ability of their rivals to effectively compete.”

The head of the Independent Pharmacy Alliance, John Giampolo, agrees. “It’s an unfair competitive practice,” he said.

Full content: Yahoo Finance

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