NAACP accuses CVS drugstores of discrimination

    A coalition of community groups including the NAACP and the National Organization for Women say the drug retail giant CVS discriminates in ethnic and minority communities.

    Today the largest drug store chain in the country – CVS – came under fire from a coalition of community groups including the NAACP and the National Organization for Women. They say the drug retail giant discriminates in ethnic and minority communities – and that is affecting their health. WHYY’s Peter Crimmins reports.

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    The president of the local chapter of the NAACP, T. Whyatt Mondesire, called CVS a “lousy corporate citizen”, claiming stores in poor and minority neighborhoods do not give people the same access to quality drugs as stores in predominately white neighborhoods. A report issued by a union organization called Change to Win shows that in 5 large American cities – including Philadelphia – there are fewer CVS stores in minority neighborhoods, and those that are there do not have 24-hour service or in-house medical clinics. Lauren Townsend of the National Organization for Women says shoppers are treated differently in those neighborhoods.

    Townsend: Condoms! In communities of color, CVS locks up condoms. You have to go to the proprietor of the store and ask them to open up the case in order to purchase your condoms. They don’t lock up condoms in white communities.

    Marc Stier of Health Care For America Now says easy access to prescription drugs is critical to reducing national health care costs.

    Stier: It doesn’t just benefit the people who take pharmaceuticals, it benefits all us because people are able to stay healthy without going to the hospital without needing expensive medical treatments.

    With sales over 75 billion dollars in 2007, CVS is the largest drug store chain in the country. In a written statement, the publicly-held company says they have more stores in non-white communities than their competitors and security measures are only in place in neighborhoods with high crime rates.

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