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EXCLUSIVE: CVS Health to Reduce Prices on Feminine Care Products and Offer More Women’s Health Services

Senior vice president and chief merchandising officer Musab Balbale discussed the importance of equitable feminine wellness offerings and the future of the category at the retailer. 

On Tuesday, which is International Day of the Girl, CVS Health is unveiling its latest commitment to the women’s health and wellness category as a part of its HERe, Healthier Happens Together enterprise.

The initiative will address the challenges women face in accessing health services and feminine care products. CVS Health senior vice president and chief merchandising officer Musab Balbale, who started at the company last February, explained the goal is to “bring equality and accessibility to women’s health care.” For CVS to establish an equitable feminine care category, this initiative is “just the beginning” Balbale said. 

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CVS Health will set several new standards in place as a part of its overall commitment, including reducing the price of CVS Health branded period products by 25 percent and absorbing the Menstrual Tax in 12 states. CVS Health is also partnering with organizations like Period Law and Period.org, which are working to abolish the Menstrual Tax that taxes period products as nonessential unlike most health-related items. 

With these new initiatives, CVS Health is aiming to destigmatize the conversation around menstruation and fight period poverty, which impacts one out of five women, oftentimes causing them to miss school or work, according to Global Citizen. Nearly half of those who experience periods are also concerned about being able to afford the necessary care products, according to CVS Health-The Harris Poll Survey.

“As we think about the health landscape, period poverty and the challenges women face are not only a financial burden but they also have real emotional impacts and mental health impacts on our consumers and our communities,” Balbale said.

In order to further reduce the financial burden across women’s health products and services, the retailer is lowering the prices on other CVS Health branded items, including UTI medications, pregnancy tests and vaginal ointments, as well as offering new menstrual, menopause-related and contraception services in CVS Minute Clinics and its virtual platforms. 

With this commitment, CVS Health is also addressing the Pink Tax, in which products geared toward women are often more expensive than the comparable product for men. The retailer will be implementing equitable pricing for similar men’s and women’s products, like razors and shaving cream.

“Oftentimes, prices for products that are geared toward women have had a higher retail price across the industry and we are instituting formally now a process by which we evaluate all the products…and make sure that they are priced equally and fairly across the gender spectrum,” Balbale explained.

In order to further establish accessible women’s health care, the retailer will continue to expand its CVS Health branded offerings and is inviting brand partners to participate with them, noted Balbale. “CVS plays an important role in the communities that we serve. It oftentimes serves an immediate need for members of our community where they’ve run out of products at home. It also, for a large portion of our more urban communities, serves a role as where they shop more regularly and so making sure that we have availability, accessibility to feminine care products is really core to our mission to serve the health and wellness needs for our community,” Balbale said.

To announce its latest HERe, Healthier Happens Together commitment and celebrate International Day of the Girl, CVS Health is hosting a conversation on Tuesday in New York City to discuss topics around women’s health, including period poverty, menstrual tax and the actions CVS Health has set in place. Moderated by TV personality Adrienne Houghton, panelists will include 601 for Period Parity cofounders Asia and Laila Brown; The Money Coach founder Lynette Khalfani-Cox; CVS Health’s vice president and chief medical officer for women’s health and genomics Dr. Joanne Armstrong, and CVS Health’s vice president of consumer health care, pricing and analytics and front store merchandising Jake White.