NWLC Demands CVS Address its Discrimination and Refusal to Dispense Miscarriage Management Medication

SAN DIEGO — June 6, 2024 — Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), in partnership with the law firm Fenwick & West LLP, submitted a legal demand letter to CVS Health after Angela Costales was illegally denied medication she needed after experiencing a miscarriage. Ms. Costales was denied a prescription for misoprostol at a CVS pharmacy in San Diego. The letter seeks compensation for Ms. Costales and demands that CVS take immediate steps to ensure that no patient is denied their lawfully prescribed medication in the future, including by training its employees on their legal obligations.

Misoprostol is commonly prescribed for management of miscarriage and other conditions, and also is used for medication abortion, making it a vital medication for many individuals. CVS’s denial violates state and federal laws that protect against sex discrimination as well as laws that ensure all patients receive legally prescribed medication.

“Being denied medication during one of the most painful experiences of my life was devastating,” said Angela Costales. “No one should have to go through what I did. I hope that CVS takes action, so we can ensure that no other person has to suffer like this in the future.”

“Pregnancy-related care, including miscarriage management, birth control, and abortion, are time-sensitive, critical health care,” said Clara Spera, Senior Counsel for Reproductive Rights and Health at the National Women’s Law Center.What happened to our client was not only abhorrent, it was unlawful, as CVS well knows, and we will hold them accountable.”

“CVS’s treatment of Ms. Costales jeopardized her health at a time when she was most vulnerable,” said Fenwick partner Vanessa Park-Thompson. “It was an unacceptable lapse in adherence to crucial healthcare regulations. CVS must take concrete steps to align its practices with the prevailing federal and state laws and ensure that patients’ legal rights to their prescribed medications are respected and protected.”

NWLC and Fenwick & West LLP are urging CVS Pharmacy to address the violation and take immediate steps to prevent future refusals. They are demanding that CVS do the following:

  • Retrain all CVS employees at the location where the incident took place with updated training materials.
  • Ensure that every CVS employee nationwide understands applicable federal and state laws, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and require that pharmacies ensure their customers can obtain their legally prescribed medication. 
  • Conduct random, regular screenings of pharmacy locations across the country to ensure compliance with federal and state law.
  • Clearly post at every CVS pharmacy a statement of patients’ rights to obtain prescribed medication and CVS’s commitment to serving its patients.
  • Pay damages to Ms. Costales for the harms CVS caused.

NWLC and Fenwick & West LLP have indicated the potential for legal action should CVS fail to respond to the demands in the letter. 

NWLC has received other complaints about wrongful refusals to fill prescriptions related to reproductive care, including birth control, and welcomes individuals who think they may have experienced similar discrimination to reach out to NWLC to share their stories.  

A copy of the letter can be found here.