Connecticut Attorney General, DCP Issue Subpoena Regarding Price Increases, Changes In Rite Aid Drug Discount Program
HARTFORD, August 25, 2010 -Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), today issued a subpoena to Rite Aid demanding information about significant changes and price increases to a discount drug program that the company falsely blamed on a new state law.
The law requires pharmacies to provide Medicaid and other state programs the same prescription drug discounts they offer consumers. Apparently in response, Rite Aid increased prices and made other changes to its Rx Savings discount drug program in Connecticut. The drug store chain posted signs that falsely blamed the higher prices and program changes on the new law.
Changes to Rx Savings program benefits just for Connecticut recipients included:
· Increasing the cost a 30-day supply of selected generic drugs from $8.99 to $10.99. Eliminating the offer of a 90-day supply of selected generic drugs for $15.99;
· Eliminating discounts for oral contraceptives, brand medications and certain medical supplies, including diabetic strips for measuring blood sugar.
All the above benefits remain unchanged for consumers outside Connecticut.
Blumenthal said, “Denying discounts, and charging higher prices -- and then falsely blaming the state -- is both insult and injury. Rite Aid should do right by its customers.”
Blumenthal is investigating in cooperation with the DCP and the Department of Social Services.
Blumenthal said in a letter to Rite Aid, “I am concerned that Rite Aid has singled out Connecticut residents by eliminating or reducing key drug discount benefits, while continuing to offer those benefits to residents in other states. It is imperative that Rite Aid live up to promises and representations concerning the terms and benefits of the Rx Savings program made to the program’s Connecticut enrollees.
“I am deeply troubled, moreover, by Rite Aid’s misleading public statements that Connecticut law requires Rite Aid to impose these drug price increases on Connecticut consumers. Section 17 of Public Act 10-179 requires Connecticut pharmacies that offer discounts on prescription drugs to the general public to charge the same amounts to the Connecticut Medical Assistance program, which is funded entirely through state and federal taxpayer dollars. Nothing in the act prohibits Rite Aid from continuing to offer the same drug discount benefits to Connecticut residents through its Rx Savings program that it offers to the residents of other states.
“Under these circumstances, Rite Aid’s intention to abruptly restrict a popular program that has assisted families in defraying costs of medications raises significant legal questions.”
Rite Aid must provide the subpoenaed information by September 8.
Blumenthal recently launched a similar recent investigation into CVS Caremark’s threat to terminate a drug discount program because of the law. CVS dropped its threat after Blumenthal announced his investigation.
Blumenthal encouraged Rite Aid to follow CVS’s example: “I urge you to reconsider this misguided decision -- a decision that is particularly alarming at a time when many in Connecticut continue to struggle with both financial difficulties and inadequate prescription drug coverage.”
Office of the Attorney General 55 Elm Street Hartford, Connecticut 06106 Telephone: (860) 808-5318
Posted: August 2010