By Pat Anson, Editor, PNN Editor
Lawyers involved in class action lawsuits that allege pain patients were discriminated against by three major pharmacy chains are being tight-lipped about whether the lawsuits may be expanded to include additional plaintiffs and pharmacies.
The lawsuits were filed earlier this month in California and Rhode Island against CVS, Walgreens and Costco on behalf of two women who say the pharmacies refused to fill their prescriptions for opioid pain medication.
At least six different law firms around the country are handling the cases. They’ve set up a website called Seeking Justice for Pain Patients, which invites other patients to participate in the lawsuits by sharing their personal information and experiences at pharmacies. It’s not yet clear how the information will be used or if the cases will be expanded.
“Pain patients have been contacting us in response to the lawsuits. The overall response has been very positive and happy that some action is being taken,” Robert Redfearn, a Louisiana attorney, said in an email to PNN. “Though there are no plans to do so at this time, additional individual named plaintiffs could possibly be added, but if a national class is certified, it should not be necessary.”
Other lawyers involved in the lawsuits did not respond to requests for comment.
Redfearn represents Susan Smith, a 43-year old mother from Castro Valley, California who lives with severe chronic migraines. The only medications that give her relief from head pain are opioids. Smith says pharmacists at Walgreens and Costco refused to fill her opioid prescriptions and publicly shamed her.
“After being harassed by pharmacists [and] pharmacy staff for a number of years — being laughed at, being called names in front of my child — I really couldn’t take it anymore,” Smith told the San Francisco Examiner. “It has been really stressful, demoralizing, not to mention discriminating. On top of that, they were making it really hard for me to live a pain-free life.”
‘Find a New Pharmacy’
“There has to be a change,” says Edith Fuog, a 48-year old Tampa, Florida mother who filed the lawsuit against CVS. Fuog has lived for many years with trigeminal neuralgia, lupus, arthritis and other chronic pain conditions.
“People need to understand what is happening. Everybody in their life is going to be a pain patient at one point or another, whether it’s an accident, becoming elderly, a disease or cancer. If this is happening to people who have chronic pain, the people who are just coming in with acute pain are never going to be treated.”