Rite Aid Subpoenaed by Blumenthal Over Connecticut Drug Price Changes

Rite Aid Corp., the third-biggest U.S. drugstore chain, was subpoenaed by the Connecticut attorney general, who is seeking information about drug price increases that he said the company falsely blamed on a new state law.

The Connecticut law requires pharmacies to provide Medicaid and other government programs the same prescription-drug discounts they do other consumers, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said today in a statement.

Rite Aid increased the cost of a 30-day supply of selected generic drugs by $2 in its Rx Savings program and eliminated a $15.99 90-day-supply option for some generic drugs, Blumenthal said. The chain also scrapped discounts for oral contraceptives, brand medications and medical supplies including diabetic strips, he said. Rite Aid posted signs saying higher prices and program changes were because of the new law, he said.

“Denying discounts, and charging higher prices -- and then falsely blaming the state -- is both insult and injury,” Blumenthal said. “Rite Aid should do right by its customers.”

Similar changes weren’t made for consumers outside Connecticut, Blumenthal said. The company must provide the requested information demanded by Sept. 8, he said.

Ashley Flower, a spokeswoman for Camp Hill, Pennsylvania- based Rite Aid, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

In June, Blumenthal began a probe of CVS Caremark Corp.’s threat to scrap its Health Savings Pass discount drug program because of the new law. Blumenthal said CVS dropped its plan after he started the investigation.

CVS Plan

CVS told Blumenthal this month that it didn’t plan to suspend Health Savings Pass for people in Connecticut, Michael J. DeAngelis, a spokesman for the Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based company, said today.

“We value our relationship with the state and with our customers in Connecticut and we are committed to serving those who may not otherwise have access to prescription coverage,” DeAngelis said in an e-mail.

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell said today that she had directed the Department of Consumer Protection to subpoena Rite Aid records. The attorney general’s subpoena was in cooperation with that department.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Freifeld in New York at kfreifeld@bloomberg.net.

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