Good News of a Sort

Good News of a Sort

CVS, the second biggest pharmacy chain in the US, is no longer selling tobacco products as of October 1. They will lose 2 billion a year in sales as a result.

That’s a good thing for an industry that is ostensibly in health care.

“As the delivery of healthcare evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care,” Larry J. Merlo, the president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

and

“Making cigarettes available in pharmacies in essence ‘renormalizes’ the product by sending the subtle message that it cannot be all that unhealthy if it is available for purchase where medicines are sold,” the company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Troyen Brennan, wrote in a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

And yet.

A quick search on their website shows they sell at least 16 homeopathic products. When you use homeopathic as the search term oscilliococinum does not come up but has to be searched separately, so there may be more than 16.

The have three oscilliococinum products for the treatment of influenza, an asthma therapy, several allergy therapies, a bacterial vaginitis therapy, a sleep aid and a jet lag treatment.

Personally, I do not see how selling sugar pills with no active ingredients helps “emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs.” Perhaps selling placebos for potentially fatal diseases like asthma and influenza will reduce chronic disease and control costs, since dead people are not involved with neither.

And selling placebos as if they actually could treat potentially fatal illnesses ’renormalizes’ the product by sending the subtle message that it cannot be all that useless sugar pills if it is available for purchase where medicines are sold.

I suppose it is foolish to expect consistency. The business of CVS is to make money. I am glad they are not selling cigarettes, although I suspect, given that Target quit selling tobacco because

low profit margins in part because the high costs of theft and enforcement of age restrictions on sales.

it may not be for the altruistic reasons cited. As long as they sell placebos to treat influenza for $24.99, I will not be sanguine as to their motivations. 

Points of Interest: 2/6/2014
Birchin'

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