2008-12-12 / Top Stories

NAACP: CVS Treats Minorities Unfairly

Hazel Duke of NAACP Hazel Duke of NAACP CVS Pharmacy has come under fire in New York and across the country today as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other groups react to the results of an in-depth investigation into the drug store chain's failure to provide equal and fair access to its stores and services, as well as evidence of questionable product quality control, overcharging, lax privacy protection and consumer safety issues at CVS stores.

The study, titled "Cure CVS: From high prices to low quality, CVS is failing our communities," is available at www.CureCVSNow.org. It is the result of a fourteen-month investigation of CVS's retail operations, including extensive surveying of stores in many of the company's largest markets of operations.

CVS fails to provide equal access: In the metropolitan New York area, CVS locates four times as many stores per person in majority white neighborhoods than in areas where people of color make up the majority of residents. CVS operates four times as many stores per person in the wealthiest areas of metro New York, where the median household income is over $80,000 annually, than in the least, where the median household income is under $40,000 annually. In contrast, Walgreens and Rite Aid actually locate more stores per person in the least affluent areas across the country.

CVS is far more likely to allocate time- and money-saving conveniences like 24 hour stores and in-store medical clinics to majority-white neighborhoods and higherincome communities. CVS operates only one in-store MinuteClinic out of all 118 stores it operates in New York City. CVS does not operate a single 24 hour store in a New York City neighborhood where people of color are a majority. There are just three 24-hour stores in communities with median household incomes less than $40,000.

"CVS's discriminatory practices are hurting our communities," Hazel Dukes, NAACP New York state chapter president said at a demonstration held this morning outside the CVS on 42nd Street in Manhattan's Times Square. "CVS is failing to provide minorities with equal access to medicine and community-based medical services here in New York and across the country."

Rev. Mark Hallinan, who leads the Jesuit order's social ministries in New York and Northern New Jersey, said, "CVS/Caremark needs to understand that the faith community will not tolerate business practices that offend the dignity of the poor and persons of color. CVS/Caremark must change the way it operates its stores and change the way it handles its prescription

services so that they will reflect the most ethical of practices, rather than the most shameful of practices." Demonstrations, like the one in Manhattan, took place outside CVS stores today coast to coast from Los Angeles to Detroit and Boston to Philadelphia. Unsanitary CVS stores in communities of color and lower-income areas: In the New York City area, state regulators cited CVS for nearly three

times as many critical health violations per store, on average, in zip codes with median household incomes below $40,000 as in zip codes with higher median household incomes. Regulators found evidence of vermin in a majority of inspections of New York City-area CVS stores in zip codes where more than half the residents are people of color.

In addition to under-serving residents in low-income communities and areas where people of color live, CVS also has a troubled track record regarding customer safety, overcharging at the cash register and selling expired infant formula, milk, eggs and over-the-counter medication.

CVS repeatedly caught selling expired products: A survey of New York City CVS stores found expired infant formula at 18 stores or 23% of stores surveyed. The survey found expired infant formula at 33% of visited stores in Manhattan and 32% of visited stores in Queens. The survey found expired dairy goods at 11 stores or 13% of CVS stores visited in New York City, including 26% of Brooklyn stores visited.

In June 2008 the New York State Attorney General announced he would take legal action against CVS after undercover investigators found expired products in 142 CVS stores across New York State.

CVS is the nation's largest drug store chain, operating more than 500 stores in the New York Metro area and 6,800 stores nationwide.

CVS Caremark Corporation is the nation's largest source of prescription drugs.

The New York chapter of the NAACP was joined by New York Labor- Religion Coalition, New York Immigration Coalition; Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign, Mothers on the Move (MOM), For a Better Bronx, Westchester Peace and Justice Action Coalition (WESPAC), Associated Indigenous Movement (AIM), Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG), Citizens for Economic Opportunity (CEO), Konbit Neg Lakay (Haitian Community Coming Together), Latin American Workers Project, NYC Jobs with Justice, Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church and more community groups at today's demonstration outside the CVS in Times Square.

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Hazel Duke forgot to mention one of the most important things this country offers-Free enterprise!!! I would like to know what the difference is in the cost of liability insurance between the "affluent white neighborhoods and the neighborhoods with the people of color". I'd like to know the percentage of "slip and fall" and other frivolous lawsuits, and the cost of security between the two different neighborhoods are. I bet the shrinkage numbers are drastically different along with the security expenses. It sounds a bit racist on Dukes part regarding this study. How about cleaning up these neighborhoods and make people more accountable rather then bash the big businesses. Sounds like another lawsuit to make so blood sucking lawyers wealthy. Since when do the people in this country dictate to businesses. Seems that CVS apparently knows how to make money and I'm sure they're not in the business to lose it. Don't like a business---Don't shop there!

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