Pain patients file class action lawsuits against CVS, Walgreens and Costco over opioid prescription blocking

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Two women have filed class action lawsuits against major nationwide pharmacies to get their opioid prescriptions filled without limitations or restrictions, or the constant fear their prescriptions will be denied.

Edith Fuog, 48, of Riverview, Fla., has filed a nationwide class action lawsuit In U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against CVS on behalf of millions of legitimate opioid users. Similarly, Susan Smith, 43, of Castro Valley, Calif., has filed suit against Walgreens and Costco in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Fuog, who suffers from chronic pain as a result of stage-1 breast cancer, MRSA, VRSA, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Parsonage Turner Syndrome, lupus, and arthritis, among other conditions, alleges that since 2017, numerous different CVS pharmacies have refused to fill her legitimate prescriptions. Although she filed complaints with CVS’ corporate headquarters, she said in the suit that she has never heard back from CVS about her complaints.

Smith suffers from Mesial Temporal Lobe Sclerosis of the brain, which leaves her with constant migraine headaches so severe she cannot walk or see and gives her extreme bouts of nausea and vomiting. The only medication she can take that provides her with any relief from the pain are opioids, she said in her lawsuit. However, numerous Walgreens and Costco pharmacies have refused to fill her prescriptions, she alleges in the lawsuit. Additionally, although she complained to Walgreens corporate offices, the lawsuit contends, they dismissed her concerns.

Both women contend in their suits that the corporate pharmacies have implemented policies that have resulted in legitimate patients being treated like drug abusers. Additionally, the lawsuit contends that the pharmacies’ actions violate the American with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

The suits note that in 2020, the American Medical Association stated in a letter to the CDC that the opioid epidemic was no longer prescription driven, saying, “We can no longer afford to view increasing drug-related mortality through a prescription drug-myopic lens.” Additionally, the AMA said CDC guidelines issued by the CDC in 2016, are “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.”

“Many Americans are unaware of the difficulties chronic pain patients have getting pharmacies to fill their lawfully-obtained opioid prescriptions,” said Scott Hirsch, one of the lead attorneys in the case. “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.”

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