CVS to reduce prices for menstrual products

May Khin

CVS Health Corp. announced on Oct. 11 that it will lower prices for menstrual products in 12 states.

CVS reduced the price of its store-brand menstrual products such as tampons, menstrual pads, liners and cups by 25% in selected CVS Pharmacy locations.

 Known for its pharmacy services, the retail company said it wants to make sure women are not paying more for personal hygiene products than men, who primarily purchase razors and shaving creams.

CVS announced that it started paying for applicable sales tax on menstrual products in 12 states: Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The company added that it is paying the tax on menstrual products on behalf of customers. It aims to eliminate what is commonly referred to as a “tampon tax.”

A “tampon tax” refers to the sales tax applied to tampons, pads and other menstrual products.

Since 2016, 23 states exempted menstrual products from state sales taxes, eliminating the tampon tax, USA Facts reported. Five other states do not impose a sales tax, so the products are automatically exempt.

The federal government officially acknowledged menstrual products as a medical expense in 2020.

“Women deserve quality when it comes to the products they may need each month,” CVS said in a press release. “We don’t think women should pay more than men for the same thing.”

CVS’ in-store, walk-in MinuteClinic offers menstrual services. These include evaluations for irregular periods, services for premenstrual dysphoric disorder and treatment for menopausal symptoms.

CVS announced that it believes in equity and this subject should not be taboo.

“There are laws in 13 states that prohibit any organization from covering the tax on any product,” a CVS spokesperson told CBS News. “CVS is working through operational matters in Arizona and hope to be able to cover the tax in the future.”

The company works with other organizations to eliminate menstrual products tax.

Menstrual products are still seen as luxury products and not as basic necessities in many states.

Joanne Goldblum, who is the CEO of the National Diaper Bank Network and the Alliance for Period Supplies, told CBSin an email that her organizations support this decision and believes these products should be acknowledged as basic necessities.

“We believe that no material basic necessity, including period supplies and/or diapers, should be subject to state sales taxes,” Goldblum said. “We are actively advocating for legislation to end the tampon tax in the 22 states that continue to impose [it].”

Some people believe that CVS should go further with its efforts. Padmini Murthy, who is the global health lead for the American Medical Women’s Association, told CNN that the company should reduce prices on all the menstrual products it sells and not just store brand products.

“This move will highlight their commitment to addressing women’s health and pave the way for reducing menstrual inequity, and not just to promote the use of CVS products,” Murthy said.

Market research firm IRI found that tampon prices increased 12.2% at retail stores and liner prices increased 11.6% by Oct. 2. One in four women struggled to buy period products within the last year due to their income, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies.

As of Oct. 19, there are currently no updates on whether CVS will reduce prices for all of the period products it sells.

CVS operates 9,900 retail outlets in all 50 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.