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California: HIV Patients Fight Mail-Order Drug Program

June 12, 2013

An anonymous Californian has filed a class action suit against United Healthcare Insurance, mail order pharmacy OptumRx, Pacificare Life and Health Insurance, and UnitedHealth Group for forcing HIV-infected patients to obtain HIV medications through the mail. "John Doe" claimed that receiving HIV drugs via mail violated his privacy since HIV medications that arrived in refrigerated containers would alert co-workers or neighbors to his infection. The suit also noted that the mail order protocol specifically targeted HIV/AIDS patients and deprived them of full access to clinical pharmacists who knew the patient's history and medication. The suit charged that mail-order service increased the risk of delayed or lost shipments and provided no back-up plan for obtaining medicines at a retail outlet.

Since the HIV virus can mutate in a way that requires medication adjustments, Doe alleged that the mail-order protocol could result in delays in switching to new medication regimens. Doe described OptumRx service as "poor" and claimed the company had dispensed both old and new HIV medications incorrectly. HIV patients were required to call a 1–800 number monthly to obtain refills on medications.

Doe stated that patients were not allowed to opt out of the mail delivery service, although some had obtained permission after repeated complaints. The suit sought "actual, compensatory, statutory, and exemplary damages for unfair competition, common counts, and assumpsit/common law restitution; breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act."

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Excerpted from:
Courthouse News Service
06.11.2013; Matt Reynolds




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