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Seeking Justice for Pain Patients: Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against CVS, Walgreens and Costco for Refusal to Fill Opioid Prescriptions for Chronic Pain Patients

PROVIDENCE, R.I. and SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- National class action lawsuits have been filed against the largest pharmacy chains in the country for discrimination in refusing to fill legitimate prescriptions for opioid medication.  Edith Fuog, a 48 yr. old Hispanic divorced mother , from Riverview, Fla., filed a nationwide class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island located in Providence, R.I. against CVS on behalf of the millions of other legitimate users of legally prescribed opioid medication, seeking legal relief that will allow them to get their legitimate opioid prescriptions filled, as written, without additional limitations or restrictions, and without the constant fear that their prescriptions will be denied. 

Susan Smith, a 43 yr. old married mother from Castro Valley, Ca., has filed a similar national class action against Walgreens and Costco in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California located in San Francisco, Ca.

Edith Fuog suffers from chronic pain brought on by numerous medical conditions, including stage-1 breast cancer, MRSA, VRSA, Guillainn-Barre Syndrome, Parsonage Turner Syndrome, Trigeminal Facial Nerve Neuropathy, Hashimotos Thyroid disease, Lupus and arthritis.  As alleged in her lawsuit, since at least 2017, numerous different CVS pharmacies have refused to fill her legitimate prescriptions for opioid medication in violation of the American with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  She filed complaints with CVS' corporate headquarters, but despite promises that the matter would be investigated, has never heard back from CVS.

Susan Smith suffers from Mesial Temporal Lobe Sclerosis of the brain, which is an extreme form of scar tissue in her brain that leaves her with constant migraine headaches that are so severe, that at times she cannot walk, will lose vision in her eyes, and experiences extreme bouts of nausea and vomiting.  The only medications she can take to provide her with any sort of relief from the extreme pain are opioids.  As alleged in her lawsuit, numerous Walgreens and Costco pharmacies have refused to fill her legitimate prescriptions for opioid medication in violation of the American with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  She complained to Walgreens corporate, but they were dismissive of her plight. 

Efforts to combat the national crisis of abuse of opioids, while originally well-intentioned, have led to discrimination against millions of Americans who legitimately need opioid medication to combat the terrible pain they live with every day.  As alleged in the lawsuits, CVS, Walgreens and Costco have implemented nationwide policies that  that have resulted in their pharmacies treating patients who presents a valid prescription for opioid medication as if they are a drug abuser, interfering with the customer's relationship with his or her treating doctor and improperly refusing to fill legitimate prescriptions for opioid pain medication or imposing medically unnecessary limitations or other requirements before agreeing to fill the prescriptions.

As noted in the suits, in a June 16, 2020 letter to the CDC, the American Medical Association stated that "The nation no longer has a prescription opioid-driven epidemic" and "We can no longer afford to view increasing drug-related mortality through a prescription drug-myopic lens."  The AMA noted that guidelines issued by the CDC in 2016 "included multiple arbitrary dosage and quantity limitation recommendations that have been consistently misapplied by State legislatures, national pharmacy chains, pharmacy benefit management companies, health insurance companies and federal agencies."  The AMA letter cited CVS and Walgreens policies as "inappropriate" policies that misapply "the CDC guidelines in different ways and have resulted in specific harm to patients."  The AMA further noted that: "These policies, moreover, have not withstood any meaningful evaluation or data analysis as to whether they have improved pain care or reduced opioid-related harms."

As Scott Hirsch, one of the lead attorneys handling the cases, explained:  "Many Americans are unaware of the difficulties chronic pain patients have getting pharmacies to fill their lawfully-obtained opioid prescriptions.   It is not only a crisis for Edith and Susan, but for millions of Americans due to the backlash caused in part by the national publicity concerning opioid abuse.  These lawsuits seek to allow the millions of chronic pain patients to obtain their legitimate opioid prescriptions without being discriminated against, harassed, denied, or embarrassed.  It will hopefully improve their quality of life and save many lives in the process."

The filed Class Actions are: Smith v. Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., et al., Case No.: 20-cv-05451 and Fuog v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., et al., Case No.: 20-cv-00337

For a copy of the Complaints and more information about the allegations, click here or visit

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Last Updated: 10-Aug-2020