Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act .. We knew that CVS was run by Racketeers all along

Jp Enlarged
Our Thanks to “UnderMine CVS” for this candid picture taken last Friday night at Club K2U Southside.  You know, that classy strip club on Front Street, a block from the dam.  Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  Could that be?  Yes, I believe it just might be  Larry Merlo unwinding after a day at the CVS offices.  Racketeer.  Makes you think about..
A guy named Vladimir claims to be the Pharmacy Manager at the CVS store at 1054 Cass Avenue.  I can’t confirm that.  He reports that he spends evenings at the K2U in hopes that he can suck up.  Not just to Merlo.  It seems that CVS executives keep the K2U in business all by themselves. Vladimir chuckled, “That Larry.  He really like dat girl on da left.   Whatchu think?”   What a way to run a major corporation. I told him that Sassy did look a lot like a store manager at Rite-Aid I once knew.  I honestly couldn’t tell since she had her pants on.
8/28/13 comment from my friend and Drug Topics colleague “Goose”.  Then, my thoughts.  JP

Not to dispute JP’s sources but at the CVS I used to work at, I can’t see anybody from upper management going to a local strip club.
I had a beer with Merlo and Tom Ryan at a CVS function one time and while they would have bought me beers ’til the cows came home, they only had one and they really nursed it.
We were at a company-wide get-together in Orlando and it was the first time I had been to such a function. Word came to me prior via a regional VP (in charge of 1000 stores) thru my Pharmacy Supervisor on what was expected of us. Limited alcohol consumption was part of that.
On day 1 of the conference, two married people (not to each other)got drunk, hooked up and the powers that be found out about it and confronted them. They confessed and were sent back home…minus a job. CVS made sure everybody knew about it too.
It’s a different company now, with a different CEO so I’m not toally discounting this, but I imagine with their legal woes of late, they are not doing things like this to bring attention to themselves. Keep in mind though, Ryan used to live in the Boston area and I would doubt that any of the upper management live in Woonsocket. It’s a small town really and we all assumed they were headquartered there for tax purposes. So they would not be doing going to a strip club were they live.
.
Goose, Goose, you ruin my fun. I found the image and then made up the story. In the same category that CVS lawyers participate when they say, “But, your honor, we didn’t do it. It musta been Walgreens.” If, indeed, Merlo and the boys (and they are probably mostly guys with a token female or two) are teetotalers… well good for them. I am not concerned about their partying habits. I am concerned with the unethical, thoughtless and often cruel way they behave with employees who have been loyal for decades. You get nothing from me, boys, for acting like Boy Scouts. The worm will turn, Merlo. Trust me. All of these kids who saw this somewhere. PHARMACIST. STARTING PAY $100,000.00 PLUS are gonna get their PharmDs at one of these for-profit schools that are little more than NAPLEX Preparation courses and then spend 6 months finding a job in East Podunk and have to settle for $60,000.00 and three 14s a week. The word will get out. Some of those schools like Touro U will be closing. There will be a shortage again. Then.. see who the best and brightest favor. Then see who gets rewarded. Then see whose pharmacies flunk. Yes, Larry and the rest of you who are short-sighted. The worm will turn and it will be downright medieval the way your companies are treated by potential employee pharmacists. Sign-on bonuses may not be enough to get the best and brightest. You may have to write $50,000.00 checks for the dunces. That is what I think, Goose. Thanks for the spot to segue with my real thoughts. JP

 Hello Jim,
Here is an update regarding the RICO lawsuit brought forth by an independent Pharmacy organization literally fighting for our profession.

http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20110324006381/en/lawsuit/rico/independent-pharmacies

 ”The suit was filed in federal court in September, 2010. It accuses CVS Caremark of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations and trade secret misappropriation. The complaint also says CVS Caremark contracts requiring patients to buy maintenance medications only from CVS Caremark violate the Texas “Any Willing Provider” law.

The plaintiff pharmacies complain CVS Caremark misuses private business and patient data to target pharmacies for takeover. They assert these actions are ongoing criminal practices constituting racketeering. The plaintiffs seek treble damages for the RICO violations, as well as an injunction barring CVS Caremark’s practices in the future. The trade secret misappropriation claim includes a request for exemplary damages. “

 UPDATE:
 Texas-based American Pharmacies (APRx) yesterday moved one step closer to an open court trial in its landmark 2010 lawsuit against CVS Caremark that alleges RICO violations and trade secret misappropriation (RICO = Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act). The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected CVS-Caremark’s appeal of an earlier federal court ruling that most of American Pharmacies’ RICO lawsuit against CVS must be heard in open court. The February 11 ruling by the three-judge panel means the lawsuit will now proceed on the merits of the case. CVS Caremark has continuously sought to send the entire case against it and its subsidiaries to arbitration to keep the suit out of the public eye.

 WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  BECAUSE IF THE CHAINS/PBMS CAN CONTINUE DICTATING WHERE PATIENT’S CAN GO FOR THEIR MEDICATION IT WILL LEAD TO CONSOLIDATION, WHICH LEADS TO FEWER PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR PHARMACISTS AND OF COURSE POORER WORK ENVIRONMENTS. TOO MANY PHARMACISTS ARE UNAWARE THAT BEING POLTICALLY ACTIVE IS THE ONLY WAY TO TAKE OUR PROFESSION BACK. AND EVEN THE ONES WHO REALIZE THIS MAY NOT NO WJERE TO START. THE NCPA AND THIS AMERICAN PHARMACIES ORGANIZATION ARE A GREAT PLACE TO START….http://www.aprx.org

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Goose  •  Aug 28, 2013 @11:59 am

    Not to dispute JP’s sources but at the CVS I used to work at, I can’t see anybody from upper management going to a local strip club.
    I had a beer with Merlo and Tom Ryan at a CVS function one time and while they would have bought me beers ’til the cows came home, they only had one and they really nursed it.
    We were at a company-wide get-together in Orlando and it was the first time I had been to such a function. Word came to me prior via a regional VP (in charge of 1000 stores) thru my Pharmacy Supervisor on what was expected of us. Limited alcohol consumption was part of that.
    On day 1 of the conference, two married people (not to each other)got drunk, hooked up and the powers that be found out about it and confronted them. They confessed and were sent back home…minus a job. CVS made sure everybody knew about it too.
    It’s a different company now, with a different CEO so I’m not toally discounting this, but I imagine with their legal woes of late, they are not doing things like this to bring attention to themselves. Keep in mind though, Ryan used to live in the Boston area and I would doubt that any of the upper management live in Woonsocket. It’s a small town really and we all assumed they were headquartered there for tax purposes. So they would not be doing going to a strip club were they live.
    .
    Goose, Goose, you ruin my fun. I found the image and then made up the story. In the same category that CVS lawyers participate when they say, “But, your honor, we didn’t do it. It musta been Walgreens.” If, indeed, Merlo and the boys (and they are probably mostly guys with a token female or two) are teetotalers… well good for them. I am not concerned about their partying habits. I am concerned with the unethical, thoughtless and often cruel way they behave with employees who have been loyal for decades. You get nothing from me, boys, for acting like Boy Scouts. The worm will turn, Merlo. Trust me. All of these kids who saw this somewhere. PHARMACIST. STARTING PAY $100,000.00 PLUS are gonna get their PharmDs at one of these for-profit schools that are little more than NAPLEX Preparation courses and then spend 6 months finding a job in East Podunk and have to settle for $60,000.00 and three 14s a week. The word will get out. Some of those schools like Touro U will be closing. There will be a shortage again. Then.. see who the best and brightest favor. Then see who gets rewarded. Then see whose pharmacies flunk. Yes, Larry and the rest of you who are short-sighted. The worm will turn and it will be downright medieval the way your companies are treated by potential employee pharmacists. Sign-on bonuses may not be enough to get the best and brightest. You may have to write $50,000.00 checks for the dunces. That is what I think, Goose. Thanks for the spot to segue with my real thoughts. JP

  2. Pharmacist Bob  •  Aug 29, 2013 @8:54 am

    Nursing a beer and the facade is all about image. Image tarnished if they really had some fun, but they are tarnished all the time-fines here fines there, what a POS company destroying the profession of pharmacy every day, total disrespect to the professionals via metrics. War should be declared, metrics are like chemical weapons, should not be allowed.

  3. Pharmacist Bob  •  Aug 29, 2013 @10:49 am

    When you say a company is a pathetic “POS company” what company comes to mind?

  4. Pharmacist Bob  •  Aug 29, 2013 @10:56 am

    Yes grasshopper, let the hate inside drive the force

  5. goose  •  Aug 30, 2013 @8:31 pm

    JP,
    I agree with you. No way will the “old school” pharmacy schools put up with these upstarts. They will start closing when word gets out (and it will) that you cannot get a get a degree from a “for profit” school and get a residency position or a job doing clinical work.
    It would not surprise me to learn than the “for profit’ schools have gotten cozy with the chains to produce grads that will take less $$ for a position.
    i have two students in their 6th year that have no prospects. I assure you that they would take ANYTHING offered to them at the moment.
    Feel sorry for the kids. They are getting hosed big time,

  6. Pharmaciststeve  •  Aug 30, 2013 @10:01 pm

    Goose is right.. I see these for profit RPH schools to start folding within 5 yrs and before the end of the decade. If Medicare Part B and the HME industry and competitive bidding …is any example of what Obamacare is going to be.. we are going to see providers be selective in what services they provide and accept Medicare assignment. Cutting labor costs and providing minimum care is going to be the order of the day. IMO..this is part of a LARGER PLAN. Even if we got back to the original 80 odd schools in the next couple of years.. it would take a decade or longer to reach a equilibrium of supply and demand.
    There is another round of competitive bidding in 2016 and it will probably “finish off” a lot of the HME players.
    I see some HME entities telling referral sources.. if all you are going to refer to me is low profit items.. we are not interested.
    I can see .. some pharmacies doing the same with pts.. right now they are discouraging the filling of controls.. I understand CVS has taken controls out of the weekly count to make goal …

  7. Pharmacist Bob  •  Sep 2, 2013 @9:07 am

    Being Labor Day it is appropriate to reiterate the need for all pharmacists to Unionize. It is a legal right to organize and justly so for the egregious acts being committed by the chains. The act of all pharmacists joining the “Guild” for example would send a “strong message” to the suits. We want professional working conditions; we want the labor to allow real consultations on every new prescription as required. The labor required to do real DUR. We want national laws that bring parity to all states with regards to hours worked/breaks and lunch time. We want a profession environment free of loud obnoxious answer the phone prompts, free of unprofessional metrics that impede real patient care and more than likely increase drug errors due to a harried and pressured pharmacist. Then as a group of all pharmacists, the strength can be exerted in the form of lobbying for the proper laws needed for our profession not for the profits of these chains. More pharmacists could be required to be hired; maybe 7000-8000 stores run on the backs of our profession by a chain is too many? Too big for their own good, too big for our profession?

  8. bcmigal  •  Sep 2, 2013 @1:07 pm

    I think it was JP or Steve who said a “tired pharmacist is a dangerous pharmacist”. The same can be said for a “hurried” pharmacist. The worrisome cascade begins with the typist who is pressured to monitor the request queue, the escripts, the faxes, the insurance rejects, the drop offs, and the register when more than 3 folks are in line all with lightening fast speed. The next perilous area is production where the tech must speedily pull the drugs, count and pour,monitor the queue for “yellows and blues”, answer the phone calls from folks who can’t or won’t use .com or apps for refills, and zoom over to cashiering. We all know the critical point. The free fall now progresses to the authentication queue where the prescription gets barely a cursory glance. Good judgement is easily suspended in order to “meet the metrics”.

    Would we only hope that an auto mechanic replaces all the rights parts? Or that the surgical team finds all the sponges before they close? Why does the public tolerate the harried and rushed environment of prescription processing?

    If pharmacists attempt to remedy the situation, the only change they will effect is trying to survive on unemployment. Sorry, but that is my cynical view of “celebrating” Labor Day.

  9. Anonymous  •  Sep 2, 2013 @6:30 pm

    I am so glad that this lawsuit is progressing. I have long wondered how CVS has been getting away with it. And CVS/CAREMARK are not alone now. PBM’S requiring mail order after 1 fill at retail. This is, IMO, dangerous and causes noncompliance in the elderly and mentally ill especially. I have seen it too much.

    I have also witnessed a large increase in medication errors in the past few years. The 15 minutes promise fiasco was shot down as illegal in my state before it began. But the metrics are allowed?

    Attrition, firings, and illnesses are taking care of seasoned staff. Replaced by minimum wage part time children fast tracked into processing scripts before they know how to use the cash register. The Pharmacist is running the register because the new kids on the block think they are too good for that within 1 month of hire. Call them out on anything more than once it’s a call to human resources for “creating a hostile environment”. They call in sick, have 10 family emergencies, and 3 “preplanned before hire” vacations within 6 months and then quit. Rinse, wash, repeat.

  10. Whistleblower  •  Sep 3, 2013 @4:05 pm

    @anonymous…. You are so correct about the errors that are taking place….most are not reported and the errors that are reported are just that…the BOP doesn’t give a SH**, the company gives a gift card and that’s it. Weekly I hear about these errors and it seems they are taking place on certain shifts by RPHs that have worked waytoo many hours or first thing in the morning or at the end of the shift…rushing to clean up screens upon arriving and again in the evening. Poorly trained techniical staff doesn’t help either. I just last week was told by a left coast RPH that her PDM told her the five pages of red that she walked in on could be verified in 15-20 minutes. 15 lines per page…CVS only cares about the score and not the patient or your license. They continue to harass, intimidate and threaten to terminate (HIT) !!!

    Joe Zorek

  11. anonymoustoo  •  Sep 3, 2013 @5:03 pm

    Whistleblower, good luck on your case. Anonymous, CVS isn’t the only offender, don’t forget Rite Aid. Creating a hostile work environment is the go to excuse lately to get your behind out the door and bring in a cheaper replacement. Like you said, harass, intimidate and threaten to terminate. I am surprised CVS copied the Rite Aid flu shot quota. What next? Write ups for not enough shots, two conference calls a day during busy time and stressed out techs calling out leaving you alone to process rxs and shots. To the nasty rat who took my place, enjoy! Someday the same will happen to you.

  12. anonymous  •  Sep 3, 2013 @5:07 pm

    Whistleblower, good luck on your case. Anonymous, CVS isn’t the only offender, don’t forget Rite Aid. Creating a hostile work environment is the go to excuse lately to get your behind out the door and bring in a cheaper replacement. Like you said, harass, intimidate and threaten to terminate. I am surprised CVS copied the Rite Aid flu shot quota. What next? Write ups for not enough shots, two conference calls a day during busy time and stressed out techs calling out leaving you alone to process rxs and shots. To the lowlife who took my place, enjoy! Someday the same will happen to you.

  13. Pharmacist Bob  •  Sep 3, 2013 @11:23 pm

    Bcmigal—This Company deserves retribution, a penalty-something they are used to. The shareholders must suffer to exact change in the way the corporation acts towards our profession, currently with total disrespect. Can’t blame the DM’s entirely as it is a cascade down of the egregious acts they commit. The DM’s have chips under their skin too, yet they knew what they were getting into.

  14. bcmigal  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:03 pm

    During a recent visit by the regional manager, pharmacists were told ” we don’t really care how you meet the metrics, just do it.” That would be laughable if it were not just plain dangerous. The techs tell me they feel as though they are “prisoners” at work. I think it is like the first scene in the movie “Les Miserables”. Not the way I had dreamed of spending the last half of my pharmacy career.

  15. Pharmacist Bob  •  Sep 5, 2013 @12:12 pm

    Here is what needs to happen!
    1. Every pharmacist joins the Guild for example and demands a national contract to be written so that every pharmacist in the chain is treated the same way based on the strictest labor laws out there. Required breaks and lunches, maximum hours in a day etc.
    2. The PICS are to be written into the contact also and all will resign position effective immediately unless they are in the contract.
    3. Scabs will not be tolerated.

  16. Anon  •  Sep 6, 2013 @7:59 pm

    Bob,
    What guild? Let us know- provide a link. We are all floating alone -no one to help. We’re the Pic’S also.

    We’re all being fired. This is also happening in nursing and engineering.

    Scabs- what? We’re fired, the young PharmD.’s who take our jobs assume we did something to be fired. They don’t care- they got a job!

  17. Pharmacist Bob  •  Sep 7, 2013 @8:20 am

    What happened, what pharmacist would want to be the PIC and be responsible for the results of not having enough labor to do the workload that is dumped on you and be expected to achieve the multitude of big brother metrics? Are you kidding me? Join the Guild, send the message to these chains, we are not going to allow this to happen to our profession!

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