Check out this package of material I just received from CVS Caremark, a prescription benefit plan associated with CVS pharmacy. Pure and simply, it is an advertisement for Cymbalta, Eli Lilly's antidepressant which was recently approved for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
But it doesn't look like an ad. It looks like a letter from a pharmacy that is deeply concerned that my fibromyalgia patients receive the best treatment. Here's how the letter starts:
CVS Caremark administers the prescription benefit plan for one or more of your patients. We are committed to providing health care professionals with information about drug therapy. As part of this commitment, we are providing you with this issue of RXViewpoints®, which focuses on the management of fibromyalgia with Cymbalta® (duloxetine HCI). Cymbalta is a therapeutic option on the CVS Caremark preferred drug lists. Patients may have a lower copayment for medications on these drug lists. Some prescription benefit plans may limit quantities or require prior authorization.
The letter came in a 9 X 12 inch envelope proclaiming "Confidential--May Include Protected Health Information." Along with the letter is a newsletter called "Rx Viewpoints" that appears to be written by Eli Lilly staff extolling the benefits of Cymbalta for fibromyalgia.
How touching that CVS Caremark is, in their words, so "committed to providing health care professionals with information about drug therapy." At the end of the letter, in small print, the source of all this benevolence becomes a tad clearer:
Whatever amount of money CVS is making on this scam, it had better be a bundle, because the pharmacy is going to have to spend at least that much dealing with the PR fiasco certain to be triggered by this foolish business decision.
I've called doctors who speak for drug companies "drug whores," a term that offends some readers. CVS Caremark has added another flinch-worthy phrase to the lexicon of medicine: "Pharmacy whores."