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Subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation
HeadquartersWoonsocket, Rhode Island
ProductsRetail - Pharmacy
Revenue$37.006 billion USD (2005)
Operating income$2.019 billion USD (2005)
Net income$1.210 billion USD (2005)
Employees80,000 (2005)
SloganFor All The Ways You Care

CVS/pharmacy (also CVS) is a pharmacy and convenience store chain in the United States. CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, based on store count, with approximately 6,200 stores across 38 states. As the retail pharmacy division of CVS Caremark Corporation, they sell prescription drugs and a wide assortment of general merchandise, including over-the counter drugs, beauty products and cosmetics, film and photo finishing services, seasonal merchandise, greeting cards and convenience foods through their CVS/pharmacy retail stores and online through They also provide healthcare services through their MinuteClinic healthcare clinics. Most of these clinics are located within CVS stores.

While CVS is incorporated in Delaware, and is based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, it was founded in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1963.



CVS/pharmacy used to be a subsidiary of Melville Corporation until Melville changed its name to CVS Corporation in 1996.

The initials once stood for "Consumer Value Stores", but CEO Tom Ryan has said he now considers it to stand for "Convenience, Value, and Service."[citation needed]

During the company's days as a regional chain in the Northeastern U.S., many of CVS's stores did not include pharmacies. These stores were simply called "CVS", while the ones with pharmacies were called "CVS/pharmacy."[citation needed] Additionally, in some jurisdictions, pharmacies are required to label themselves as such. Today, the company no longer builds new stores without pharmacies, and is gradually phasing out the old convenience store-type shops that remain in New England, New York, Washington, D.C., and shopping malls.

Acquisitions and growth


  • In 1964, CVS had 17 stores that sold primarily health and beauty products.
  • In 1967, CVS began operation of its first stores with pharmacy departments, opening locations in Warwick and Cumberland, RI.
  • By 1970, CVS operated 100 stores in New England and the Northeast.
  • In 1972, CVS nearly doubled in size with its acquisition of 84 Clinton Drug and Discount Stores. The purchase introduced CVS to the Midwest with stores in Indiana.
  • In 1977, CVS acquired the 36-store New Jersey-based Mack Drug chain.
  • In 1980, CVS became the 15th largest pharmacy chain in the U.S. with 408 stores and $414 million in sales.
  • In 1988, CVS celebrated its 25th anniversary, finishing the year with nearly 750 stores and sales of about $1.6 billion.
  • In 1990, CVS acquired the 500-store Peoples Drug chain, which established the company in new mid-Atlantic markets including Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The newly acquired stores were converted to CVS stores.
  • In 1993, CVS withdraws from the Southern California market.
  • Until 1996, CVS was a division of Melville Corporation. During that year, Melville divested its other subsidiary retail chains, which included Linens 'N Things, KB Toys, and Marshalls, and changed its name to CVS Corporation. Formerly traded as MVL on the New York Stock Exchange, the company now trades under the symbol CVS.
  • In 1997, CVS more than doubled its 1,400 stores after purchasing the 2,500-store Revco chain. The acquisition brought CVS into the Ohio Valley and Southeastern U.S.; previously, the company's footprint had not been south of Washington, D.C.. CVS was able to afford so large a purchase because of its recent Melville divesture.
  • In 1998, CVS acquired 207 stores from Arbor Drugs, bringing its store total to 4,100 across 24 states. The transaction gave CVS its first stores in Michigan and an instant lead in the highly competitive Detroit market.
  • In 1999, CVS acquired, the first online pharmacy, and renamed it This allowed CVS to become the first fully-integrated online and brick-and-mortar pharmacy.
  • In 2004, CVS purchased 1,268 Eckerd drug stores, as well as Eckerd Health Services, a PBM/Mail-order pharmacy business, from J.C. Penney. Most of the former Eckerd stores, which were converted to CVS stores by June, are located in Florida and Texas, as well as other Southeastern states. Because J.C. Penney credit cards were accepted at Eckerd locations, CVS continues to accept them as well.
  • On January 23, 2006, CVS announced that it had agreed to acquire the freestanding drug store operations of supermarket chain Albertsons. The deal included the acquisition of 700 drug stores trading under the Osco Drug and Sav-On Drugs banners, mostly in the Midwest and Southwestern United States with primary concentration of stores in Southern California and Chicagoland; and was formally completed on June 2, 2006. Transition of Sav-On and Osco stores to the CVS brand began shortly thereafter, and was completed by December 2006. CVS now dominates the Southern California market. Also included were Albertsons Health'n'Home (now CVS Home Health) durable medical equipment stores. Approximately 28 CVS Home Health locations are present in Arizona, California and the Kansas City area; representing CVS's first venture into the specialized DME market.
CVS had previously operated stores in southern California, but completely withdrew from the market in 1993. CVS sold virtually all of the locations to Sav-On's then owner American Stores, who operated them under the name American Drug Stores. As a result, many of the stores CVS gained in January 2006 had been the stores it owned prior to 1993. Before their re-acquisition, the stores were operated under the name Sav-On Express (the Express name was used to help customers identify those stores that did not carry all the lines of merchandise as compared to the larger, traditional Sav-On Drugs locations). CVS now operates over 6,200 stores in 43 states and the District of Columbia.[1] In some locations CVS now has two stores less than two blocks apart. In Bloomington, Indiana CVS Store 8671 & CVS 6697 are directly across the street from each other.
  • On July 13, 2006, CVS announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic, the pioneer and largest provider of retail-based health clinics in the U.S. MinuteClinic operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of CVS Corporation. MinuteClinic health care centers are staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants who are trained to diagnose and treat common family illnesses such as strep throat and ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections, and provide prescriptions when clinically appropriate. MinuteClinic also offers common vaccinations, such as flu shots, tetanus, and Hepatitis A & B. The clinics are supported by physicians who collaborate with the nurse practitioners to assure the highest quality of care. There are currently over 250 locations across the United States, most of which are within CVS/pharmacy locations.
  • On November 1, 2006, CVS announced that it was entering into a merger agreement with Nashville-based Caremark Rx Inc., a pharmacy benefits manager. The new company is called CVS Caremark Corporation and the corporate headquarters remains in Woonsocket, RI. The new pharmacy services business, including the combined pharmacy benefits management (PBM), specialty pharmacy, and disease management businesses, is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The new CVS Caremark Corporation is expected to achieve about $75 billion in yearly revenue for 2007. The merger was formally completed on March 22, 2007. Tom Ryan, CVS's Chairman and CEO, remains president and CEO of the combined company, while Caremark's President and CEO, Mac Crawford, is Chairman of the Board.

Private label

CVS has an extensive assortment of various private labels and proprietary brands. In addition to CVS/pharmacy Brand, CVS also carries exclusive store brands under the names of Essence of Beauty, Gold Emblem, Stars and Stripes, and Round the House. CVS also holds exclusive contracts to sell proprietary brands such as Nuprin, Life Fitness, Christophe, Ellin Lavar, PreVentin-AT, Skin Effects, and the Scandinavian brand Lumene. A new exclusive Playskool line of baby care is also in CVS stores. CVS was also first to sell single-use digital cameras and camcorders from Pure Digital.




In 1998, The Washington Post reported that CVS appeared to be sharing prescription drug information with the Woburn-based marketing company, Elensys. According to the Post, Elensys received information on specific prescription drugs that individual CVS customers had purchased and used this information to send targeted direct mailings urging customers to renew prescriptions and promoting other products in which they might be interested. CVS and Elensys argued that there were no privacy issues because Elensys was acting solely as a contractor to CVS, and because the purpose of the mailings was to educate consumers. CVS claimed that it never shared customers' medical histories with Elensys (despite the Washington Post's indirect evidence that they had). George D. Lundberg, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, called the practice "a gross invasion" of privacy. Following a firestorm of criticism and complaints by consumers, CVS discontinued the practice.

Boston prescriptions

During 2005 a rash of prescription mistakes came to light in some of CVS' Boston-area stores[2]. An investigation confirmed 62 errors or quality problems going back to 2002. In February 2006, the state Board of Pharmacy announced that the non-profit Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) would monitor all Massachusetts stores for the next two years. [3]

Executives accused of bribing Senator

Former CVS executives John R. Kramer and Carlos Ortiz were charged with bribery, conspiracy, and fraud (including mail fraud) by a federal grand jury for allegedly paying State Senator John A. Celona (D-RI) to act as a "consultant" for the company. Between February 2000 and September 2003, CVS paid Celona $1,000 a month, and he received tickets to golf outings and sporting events and compensation for travel to Florida and California. In August 2005, he pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges, and in January 2007, he was fined a record $130,000 by the Rhode Island Ethics Committee. The investigation was led by the FBI and the Rhode Island State Police, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gerard B. Sullivan and Dulce Donovan. Additional information is available in a press release from the FBI's Boston field office.[4]


A segment on 20/20 accused CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid among other pharmacies, of making various prescription dispensing errors. This segment aired in March 2007 and was called "ABC News '20/20' Undercover Pharmacy Investigation". CVS responded by claiming they have designed and invested millions of dollars in a comprehensive quality assurance program to enhance patient safety, and that they are constantly examining and implementing new and innovative ways to further improve quality.[5] [6]

CVS sued by Texas for illegally dumping patient info

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued CVS as of April 2007, for illegally dumping confidential patient information. CVS is accused of breaking the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act. There are also other possible violations under the violations under Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code.[7]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Christina Wallace,"CVS on notice after prescription errors", Metro International: Boston edition, 2006-02-10
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ [4]
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ [6]
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "CVS/pharmacy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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