HHS Office for Civil Rights Resolves Complaints with CVS and Walgreens to Ensure Timely Access to Medications for Women and Support Persons with Disabilities 

From ACL: Complete Post through this link…

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced steps voluntarily taken by CVS and Walgreens to improve timely access to medications to support persons with disabilities, women experiencing miscarriages and early pregnancy loss, and those seeking access to contraceptives. OCR received complaints against pharmacies for denying and delaying lawful access to medications, such as methotrexate and misoprostol. Other women filed complaints based on delays in accessing emergency contraceptives. None of the medications were prescribed in violation of State laws banning or restricting abortion or were for the purpose of abortion. All of the medications reported in the complaints were prescribed to women who were experiencing pregnancy loss, have disabilities, or were seeking access to contraceptives. In the aggregate, the complaints alleged that the pharmacies had delayed or denied filling prescriptions to treat conditions unrelated to abortion, due to the gender or age of the woman who was prescribed the medication. Since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, women across the country have reported delays in accessing medication for purposes unrelated to abortion. OCR’s action today resolves the complaints against CVS and Walgreens. 

OCR provided technical assistance to CVS and Walgreens to ensure women, including women with disabilities, receive timely access to lawfully prescribed medications. As a result, the pharmacies implemented new processes to promote access to medication by preventing potential delays. Process improvements made as result of OCR’s technical assistance include but are not limited to multiple actions.

  • Establishing specialized teams to provide internal guidance and to respond to complaints about commonly prescribed medications such as those referenced above. These teams safeguard against discrimination at the pharmacy level.
  • Launching new trainings on reproductive health care to guide pharmacy team decision-making and interactions with customers.
  • Creating direct paths for customers to submit complaints about commonly prescribed medications such as those referenced above and increasing access to existing complaint portals by prominently displaying them on pharmacy websites. See, e.g., Walgreens Access to Services Policy: https://www.walgreens.com/topic/information/access-to-services.jsp; Walgreens’ Civil Rights Coordinator Dedicated Line: (866) 412-1790; CVS Patients and Prescribers Dedicated Line: (877) 287-7867.
  • Monitoring denials of medication related to reproductive health care to help ensure patients are receiving timely access to their lawfully prescribed medications, in conformance with the pharmacies’ civil rights obligations.
  • Implementing policies and procedures to evaluate potential accommodations where pharmacy colleagues object to dispensing prescription medication.

None of these voluntary steps require CVS or Walgreens to dispense drugs for the purpose of abortion.

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