Updated Apr 16, 2018

How CVS protects its Medicare drug records

CVS runs a large pharmacy benefit manager. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A document from CVS Caremark shines another small ray of light on how pharmacy benefit managers work within the prescription drug chain.

The big picture: The language is pretty standard and not controversial on its own, according to several lawyers who reviewed the document. But it reinforces the lack of transparency that exists even in taxpayer-subsidized drug programs like Medicare Part D.

The details: The document, obtained from a person who works in the pharmacy industry, is an amendment to an agreement between CVS Caremark and an outside pharmacy. It's related to Medicare Part D, the $95 billion prescription drug program. The amendment outlines what a pharmacy should do in the event the federal government audits any Part D records tied to CVS.

The pharmacy should:

  • Let CVS know when the feds come knocking.
  • Allow CVS to review the records the government wants to see, before sending them to the feds.
  • Label all the confidential stuff as proprietary and exempt from federal open records law.

CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the amendment was made to stay in lockstep with federal regulations, and that "it simply describes commonplace procedures used by companies of all industries, including the health care industry, to protect their proprietary information."

The bottom line: Companies obviously want to protect trade secrets, and this language more or less addresses that in a specific instance. But these kinds of situations become more complicated when information, such as contract details for a large taxpayer-funded program, can't be obtained under federal open records law.

Go deeper: The financial interests of PBMs.

Go deeper

In photos: Trump visits Taj Mahal after massive rally in India

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Taj Mahal. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump visited India's Taj Mahal on Monday, hours after telling a massive crowd at a rally in Ahmedabad that he hopes to reach a trade deal with his "true friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to the country.

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties as India’s location, size and economic growth make it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 mins ago - World

Coronavirus stress tests drug industry's dependence on China

A Hong Kong commuter wears a face mask. Photo: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It's unclear whether the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus will actually result in prescription drug shortages, but it has undoubtedly highlighted the potential vulnerabilities of having the supply chain for American drugs so dependent on China.

Driving the news: About 150 prescription drugs — including antibiotics, generics and some branded drugs without alternatives — are at risk of shortage if the coronavirus outbreak in China worsens, per two sources familiar with a list of at-risk drugs compiled by the Food and Drug Administration.

Bernie's path to the presidency

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks yesterday during a rally at Houston University. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Lots of Democrats are in full panic that Bernie Sanders will win the nomination and get clobbered in the general election — and bring the party down, too. But the evidence, particularly the polling, doesn't back those doomsday warnings.

Why it matters: Virtually every national and swing state poll shows Sanders tied with or beating President Trump.  And, unlike every rival, he has a huge base of fervent, unshakable supporters he can only grow.