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Two of the nation’s largest pharmacies – CVS (CVS) and Walgreens (WBA) – are accused of overcharging consumers who used insurance to pay for some generic drugs and did not disclose that paying cash would be cheaper, according to separate lawsuits filed in federal courts this week.

In both suits, consumers contend the pharmacy chains made agreements with pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs — which negotiate with drug makers for preferred insurance coverage on behalf of health plans — to sell certain medicines at a higher price if customers pay with insurance.


For instance, David Grabstald of San Francisco last May used his insurance to purchase a generic at a Walgreens and paid $21.80. But he would have paid only $10 if he had paid cash, and Walgreens never told him that he could have saved 54 percent had he done so, according to his lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Chicago on Thursday and seeks class action status.

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