CVS apologizes to transgender woman for prescription denial

SAUL LOEB  AFP  Getty Images

SAUL LOEB AFP Getty Images

An Arizona transgender woman says a CVS pharmacist refused to fill her hormone prescription.

"I left my doctor's office elated", she wrote. I handed over the three prescriptions that my doctor, who specializes in hormone therapy, had just given me.

"I was finally going to start seeing my body reflect my gender identity and the woman I've always known myself to be", Hall wrote.

Hall, on April 24, went straight from her doctor's office to the pharmacy, prescriptions in hand.

Hall then transferred all of her prescriptions to that Walgreens "so that I never again have to see the pharmacist who discriminated against me", she wrote.

Hall wrote that the pharmacist repeatedly and loudly asked her why she needed the prescriptions, which almost brought her to tears.

On Friday, one day after Hall shared her story publicly, CVS announced that the pharmacist who allegedly harassed her is no longer employed with the company.

The statement said the pharmacist violated company policies and "does not reflect our values or our commitment to inclusion, non discrimination and the delivery of outstanding patient care".

It was the second recent controversial incident to take place in a Phoenix-area pharmacy.

Last month in Arizona, a Walgreens pharmacist denied a woman's prescription to end her pregnancy after a doctor told her the fetus was no longer viable, KPHO reported.

After Arteaga complained to the pharmacy board about a Walgreens pharmacist denying her a miscarriage-related prescription because of personal beliefs, the agency began an investigation.

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Based on federal and some state laws, CVS does allow a pharmacist to refuse to fill specific medications if doing so would violate the person's religious convictions, DeAngelis said.

"Her real motivation here was to make sure people know this shouldn't happen to them and, if it does, they can take action", said Steve Kilar of the ACLU.

Hall said she was humiliated during the encounter, and believed that the pharmacist was trying to out her as a transgender woman.

It marked her first round of hormone therapy.

According to Hall, she tried repeatedly to reach CVS' corporate complaint line, but no one apologized or addressed the incident.

"I left the store feeling mortified", she said. Instead, he loudly questioned why she needed the medication and berated her in front of other customers.

Kam Gandhi, executive director at the board, said that the agency hasn't talked to Arteaga or the pharmacist yet, but will aim to do a full investigation before the board's next meeting in August, Gandhi said.

Hall ended up getting her prescription at another pharmacy.

Employees are required, however, to have another pharmacist or manager handle the prescription so that the patient's needs are met "in a timely manner".

DeAngelis said the pharmacist was no longer employed at CVS, but he would not clarify whether the pharmacist was sacked after the company learned about Hall's encounter. The situation embarrassed her and cost the pharmacist his job.

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