‘Providence Journal’ Rejects AHF Ad on CVS’s PBM Abuse

In Featured, News by Ged Kenslea

AIDS organization’s ‘Corporate Vampires Suck’ advocacy ad had already run in nearly half-a-dozen print and online new outlets nationwide, but was rejected last week by CVS’s home state newspaper, the ‘Providence Journal’


AHF ad targets CVS, the sixth largest corporation in the world, for its anti-competitive behavior, notably, buying up health plans like Aetna, and then forcing patients—including HIV patients, who often rely on specialty services from their pharmacists—to obtain their lifesaving medications by mail order or drop shipment

LOS ANGELES (August 1, 2021) After AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched a new national advocacy and ad campaign to take on health and pharmacy giant CVS over its anti-competitive business model and practices, it learned last week that the ‘Providence Journal’—CVS’s home state daily newspaper—was rejecting AHF’s ad. CVS, the sixth largest corporation in the world, is headquartered in nearby Woonsocket, RI. A version of the ad ran in today’s Boston Sunday Globe on page A3.


The advocacy campaign and ad, ‘CVS: Corporate Vampires Suck’ (https://ahf.org/stop-cvs), targets CVS over its fierce anti-competitive behavior, specifically regarding its refusal to allow patients any choice in their pharmacy services. CVS’s currently forces most of its health plan patients from providers like Aetna—which CVS purchased for $69 billion in cash and stock in 2018—to obtain their lifesaving medications by mail order or drop shipment.


AHF’s ‘CVS: Corporate Vampires Suck’ campaign kicked off last month, with a full-page, full-color ad that ran in daily and weekly newspapers across the country with most ads landing Sunday, July 11. The ad also ran in the weekly ‘Houston Defender’ (Thursday, July 8). The Sunday papers include the Ft. Lauderdale ‘Sun Sentinel,’ ‘Houston Chronicle,’ and the ‘Chicago Defender’ (online). The ads are being complemented by a radio campaign, social media and a legislative call-to-action urging viewers and readers to contact their legislators asking them to help fight back against CVS’s monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior.


AHF intended to run the ad this week in the ‘Providence Journal’ and had been communicating back and forth with the paper’s advertising department regarding suggested possible changes or edits to the ad. Some changes were incorporated by AHF: a change to the parody CVS logo and some softening of the ad copy. However, after making some initial changes suggested by the ‘Providence Journal,’ the paper’s ad reps then advised AHF the ad could not run. They also refused to inform AHF what else might need to be changed or altered to clear the ad for publication. The ‘Providence Journal’ is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the United States.


“While we are disappointed that the ‘Providence Journal’ will not run our ‘Corporate Vampires Suck’ advocacy ad, we are not entirely surprised. It’s the hometown paper of CVS, which also runs multipage ad circulars dozens of Sundays every year in the paper and in most major newspapers across the country,” said Michael Weinstein president of AHF. “But make no bones about it. CVS remains a major threat to public health. It has been buying up health plans for billions and forcing clients—including HIV/AIDS patients—to use CVS’s mail order services, harming patients and fragmenting their care in the process. Patients are suffering and small pharmacies are being squeezed, with many, being put out of business. That’s why we put some real fangs into this advocacy campaign—we need the public’s help to fight back against CVS’s ‘corporate vampires.’”


AHF’s ‘CVS: Corporate Vampires Suck’ campaign will run until September. For more information about this campaign to fight back against CVS and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) who are putting their profit ahead of patient health, please visit: https://ahf.org/stop-cvs

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