Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

CVS faces a new lawsuit over its pharmacy networks for HIV/AIDS patients. Photo: RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images

Several HIV/AIDS patients have sued CVS Health, alleging the pharmacy giant flouted federal and state insurance laws by forcing patients into two options: fill their prescriptions at CVS locations or through CVS' mail order, or face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

The big picture: It's another lawsuit that raises questions about how people with Aetna health insurance, especially those with expensive chronic conditions, would be treated if CVS got approval to acquire Aetna for $69 billion.

The class-action lawsuit, filed anonymously by patients due to the sensitivity of their conditions, also goes after employers like Amtrak that fund prescription drug plans for their employees and chose to use CVS. The suit boils down to a few key allegations:

  • Patients with a CVS drug plan previously had gone to other local, in-network specialty pharmacies to pick up their HIV/AIDS medications.
  • Patients were shocked to find out their old pharmacy was out-of-network, and they were on the hook for their medications, which could easily cost more than $2,000 a month.
  • CVS changed its pharmacy benefits a few years ago by requiring HIV/AIDS patients to either pick their drugs up at a CVS store or get them delivered to their homes, the suit claims.
  • One plaintiff who is not home several days a week said he found his 90-day mail-ordered supply of drugs "baking in the afternoon sun."
  • Patients also weren't comfortable picking up their drugs because many CVS stores lack private areas to ask questions.
  • The plaintiffs said they also weren't able to opt out of CVS' options.

The major question: Other lawsuits have alleged that CVS uses anticompetitive muscle to force business partners to use certain vendors. Would Aetna customers with conditions like HIV be forced to use CVS and cut ties with their old pharmacies at the risk of paying lots of money for prescriptions out of their pockets?

CVS' response: "We have not been served with this complaint and have not had an opportunity to thoroughly review the allegations. However, (CVS') highest priority is assuring patient access to clinically appropriate drugs while managing overall health care costs for our clients. To that end, we offer our clients multiple clinical tools and pharmacy network options targeted at achieving both of these goals."

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day One immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

10 hours ago - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucusColorado Governor and partner test positive.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday as crisis engulfs league, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.