The US pharma giant’s straight-talking report makes its prescription for a better world easier for investors to swallow
Walk into one of the 9,600 CVS Health emporiums around the US and you’ll find almost anything you could need: snacks, greeting cards, household goods, cosmetics and, of course, drugs dispensed by white-coated pharmacists in the back.
But unlike direct competitors Walgreens, Duane Reade, Rite Aid and Walmart, you will not find cigarettes or tobacco. In 2014, CVS Caremark, as it was named at the time, said it would stop selling tobacco products and changed its name to CVS Health. The intention was to better align the business with the company purpose, helping people on their path to better health. You can’t beat the logic, and the decision removed the absurdity of a pharmacy selling tobacco. Detractors warned of lost revenue ($2bn a year) and others accused the company of hypocrisy. After all, CVS Health would continue selling processed foods high in sugar, fat and salt. It’s tough being in the health business.