CVS Faces Social Media Backlash Over Its Relationship With Birth Control App Pill Club

The brand stopped honoring its previous contract on July 5

CVS pharmacist with shopping basket consults a list and peruses medications
CVS cut the reimbursement rates it was paying Pill Club.
CVS

CVS has found itself the target of Twitter’s ire over its relationship with the birth control delivery company Pill Club.

Pill Club, which lets women fill their birth control prescriptions online via its app (and, notably, without a doctor’s visit), issued a plea on its website this week that got people’s attention. “CVS, don’t take away access to birth control.” It went on to say that the tens of thousands Pill Club customers who get their prescription coverage through CVS Caremark are at risk of losing their access to birth control via the app because CVS did not renew its contract and payment rates in place until July 5 and instead cut the reimbursement rates it was paying Pill Club.

Pill Club said on its website that CVS “simply doesn’t understand how devastating these cuts will be to Pill Club and the women we serve.”

“If we cannot convince CVS to change course in the next few weeks, we will have no choice but to stop serving people with CVS Caremark pharmacy benefits,” a statement on Pill Club’s website reads. “The reality is that we would be out of business if every pharmacy manager did what CVS is doing. And thousands of women would be without the birth control they need.”

#CVSDeniesCare began trending on Twitter on Tuesday, with a second hashtag, #BoycottCVS, popping up today, as people tweeted their disappointment that access to birth control may be threatened for customers of Pill Club and similar mail-order services like Nurx and Hers.

“Millions of women nationwide are already struggling to access affordable birth control, and Pill Club is trying to close that gap,” Ali Hartley, vice president, legal compliance at Pill Club, said in a statement. “We deliver to patients who are particularly vulnerable: women who live in rural areas, women of color, young women, and low-income women without insurance. In fact, more than half of our patients said that without Pill Club, they would likely have to stop using birth control altogether. The actions of CVS could effectively deprive tens of thousands of these women of the right to make personal decisions about their own health care. We’re urging CVS to reverse course and be a leader in the fight to help women get the basic health care they need.”

Mike DeAngelis, senior director, corporate communications at CVS, told Adweek in an email that the “accusations being made by The Pill Club against CVS Caremark are extremely misleading,”

“Our coverage of contraceptives is widespread throughout our network of 68,000 pharmacies, ensuring accessible and affordable access to our members,” DeAngelis said. “The Pill Club continues to be a participating pharmacy in our network  and there is no impact on its customers’ access to contraceptives. We are committed to providing access to women’s health care and it is irresponsible for The Pill Club to suggest otherwise in an effort to maximize their profits at the expense of our PBM clients.”

DeAngelis’ continued: “We remain committed to providing plan design options for our clients that includes coverage for contraceptive products, including birth control pills. Ensuring that the pharmacies in our network are reimbursed appropriately based on their business models helps our clients provide cost-effective coverage for their members’ pharmacy care needs.”