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Dear PoPville – Help Save DC’s Cathedral Care Pharmacy

by Prince Of Petworth July 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm 78 Comments

“Dear PoP,

I’m writing to you in hopes of getting some support for a local small business that is being forced out. Mike Madden is the owner of Cathedral Pharmacy located at 3000 Connecticut Ave. across from the Zoo. It’s been an ongoing battle of CVS trying to force him out of business. Now it’s down to the wire and Mike needs petition signatures in order to try and save his business. It only takes a second, and with the help of all the awesome PoP readers I think Mike could get the signatures he needs.

Here is the link to the petition, Save DC’s Cathedral Care Pharmacy.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t CVS front the money for this loss making business for years?

    I’m sorry but stand alone pharmacies aren’t viable businesses anymore.

  • andy

    Have you considered asking the neighbors? I for one am happy that CVS moved in to a location within a mile of my house where no other pharmacy existed.

  • Johnny

    They are forcing him out to take over the space or just to get rid of the competition? They have massive stores a block north and a couple blocks south. How many CVS’s do we need in this town? They are the WORST.

  • saf

    You should explain better HOW they are trying to force him out.

    • Anonymous


    • Scott

      from the petition website

      “Now CVS is using a small auditing error that Mike concedes making to deny him the right to continue filling prescriptions for customers under the Caremark drug plan, which insures Federal workers. Mike faces bankruptcy by the loss of several thousand customers.”

      I still don’t get it.

      I’ve never been to Cathedral Care Pharmacy but CVS sucks. I’d like to know exactly what this petition will solve? It sounds like too little too late.

      • Anon2

        I’ve been here. It’s like going to a pharmacy in soviet russia. The shelves are all half empty.

        It’s sad, but a standalone pharmacy cannot survive.

  • Florista

    CVS blows – thankfully they don’t deliver, or we’d all be taking each others’ drugs. Sign up!

  • Meg

    I would feel better about this if it was a Walgreens (sorry – were their prices decent?).

  • margaret

    I switched to a local pharmacy after CVS messed up my prescription one too many times and giving me another person’s prescription more than once. CVS’s lack of quality control is dangerous.

  • JMC

    Sorry, but this petition will do what exactly?

  • Marcus Aurelius

    This is a pretty useless post.
    For one thing, how exactly is CVS “forcing” this person out of business and why should anyone care? Is this about CVS acting unfairly or illegally? Or are you just against the opening of another CVS?
    Second, if you want people to sign a petition, you should direct them to the petition. As opposed to directing them to a petition site where they have to hunt around for the petition in question (which by the way I could not find on the site).

    • Molly

      Well, Marcus Aurelius, to answer your question: generally it sucks when your fellow Americans are put out of business. I guess that’s why we should care – but that’s just my opinion.

      yes? no?

      • Anon

        Is CVS from Nigeria and employs Malaysians or something? What does this have to do with America?

        • Molly

          I think my comment was pretty clear. That he’d be out of a business. so.

      • Another guy named Chris

        If they are put out of business because of market forces then that is capitalism.

        Not enough information in the post for anyone to rationalize rallying behind Cathedral Care.

      • Marcus Aurelius

        Yes, it “generally” does suck. But there is a difference between being put out of business by unfair tactics and being out out of business because someone comes along who does what you do better and cheaper. Because someone beats you fair and square.
        I have no idea what the story of this pharmacy is. It seems to me that whoever wants to “save” it should be doing a better job of providing a narrative as to why it should be saved. As opposed to just throwing in the name of a corporation to set it up as the presumptive villain.

        • Anon2

          Then Cathedral can “contract” with someone else.

          There’s not such thing as “unfair” when it’s B2B. It’s a contract and you’re either in compliance, or your not.

        • Molly

          I think that if you strictly followed the logic – that being put out of business is acceptable because another company is better and cheaper – a big business like CVS will always win, and that doesn’t seem very fair to me.

          • Molly

            Then again, I’m maybe getting too general here and losing sight of the actual story, sorry about that.

          • caballero

            I get the feeling you weren’t an economics major :)

          • victoria

            So Molly – do you actually seek out & favor businesses that offer you worse service at higher prices?

          • quincycyclist


            If that business supports a person’s livelihood at a livable wage instead of corporate greed and shareholder profits?

            Then yes.

            But hey, you’re free to bow to “lower prices” which only result in driving the American middle class into the ground.

    • Anonymous

      Basically Marcus, CVS runs Caremark, one of the companies servicing prescriptions. Since it took over Caremark, a lot of small, family-owned pharmacies have been subjected to audits by Caremark scrupulously going over everything and ousting the pharmacies for not crossing every t and dotting every i. The Post had an article a few weeks ago on how several small pharmacies have been forced to close now.

      You know, like the insurance companies were doing to get rid of expensive patients — oh, you forgot to mention that broken leg back when you were 10? Disqualified!

      There was a reason Theodore Roosevelt fought to keep corporations from setting up monopolies. It’s too bad Congress loves their money too much — while thumping their chests about protecting small businesses.

      • MT


      • Marcus Aurelius

        Thanks for the explanation. From what you said, and from what was said in a post further down, there does appear to be some unfair pressure being applied.
        But based on the “anti-woman” thread below, it appears as if some people won’t be sad to see it go.

        These stories are never as simple as they seem.

      • billindc


        Basically, it’s a monopolistic tactic.

      • Lester

        Sounds like this might have been a dirty trick by CVS to gain a monopoly. Don’t like the idea of a CVS monopoly. But, I don’t see how it forces the guy out of business. He would be free to sign with another pharmacy provider, and there are certainly others that have agreements with federal health plans. Might take time, but I’m sure a piece of the DC market would be attractive to another provider.

        • Anonymous

          Monopoly except for Giant Pharmacy, Target Pharmacy, Safeway Phamacy, Harris Teeter Pharmacy?

          You’re silly.

          Standalone Pharmacies are dead like in home Dr’s visits.

  • C3PO

    This note tells nothing about why we should sign a petition to save them, and when I followed the link, it took me to the home page of the petition site. I searched, but couldn’t find the petition for this cause (let alone any more reason on why readers should support it).

    I would like to support a local business, but we need some info on this.

    • Scott

      I had problems too. I used the store name then I used the owners name then I used the word pharmacy and it was like the second or third one down. I did not “sign” it because I have no idea what I’m signing. I support local business but I still have no idea what is going on.

  • Cornholio

    Link just goes to the general site. Here is the petition.


    Basically the owner refused to sell to CVS last year, so they did a full out audit on all of his publicly available paperwork and found a minute error. CVS is now trying to use that to prevent the owner, Mike, from filling prescriptions under the Caremark plan, which is used by many customers. The loss of these customers and revenue would effectively shut down the pharmacy.

    • textdoc

      How do we know it was a “minute” error?

  • Good Riddance

    Personally, I’m glad any time a pharmacy with anti-woman policies closes; CVS may be a giant corporate machine, but at least it doesn’t discriminate against 50% of the population. This pharmacy won’t stock Plan B (owner “considers it abortion”) and only provides regular birth control on a “case-by-case” basis.


    • Anonymous

      Thank you for the piece of info.

      • Idaho Ave

        Yes thank you for that piece of info. I was feeling a bit sympathetic before hearing that but now…well, he messed up his paperwork, his bad, his loss.

        • Anonymous

          Except the info is dated and might not apply to the current owner (I honestly don’t know).

    • Anon

      If this is true, this guy deserves to be put out of business.

      • Jen H.


    • Anonymous

      Aaaaaaand, we’re done.

      Buh bye jerks.

      Market based evolution in action.

      • Madison

        “Jerks”? Talk about diversity of opinion on PoP. If you disagree with someone’s principles/beliefs, that’s one thing. No need to use personal attacks (and the assumption that we all agree with you). It may be time to take a step out of your ideological insularity and meet someone with different beliefs from your own.

        • Anonymous

          Hey, I think he’s a jerk. You don’t. I get it. We have diverse opinions. And I’m expressing mine. I’m not signing the petition. You go ahead. Yay diversity!

          • JMC


        • C3PO

          Madison, what part of his/her post implied total group consensus?

    • Anonymous

      That blog post was from 2008 and says the owner is Paul. The PoP letter says the owner is Mike Madden. Please be careful in what you post. Perhaps the current owner isn’t as bigoted as the former one.

      • textdoc

        The Washington Post article that Ess linked to (a reply to post #3 in the thread) refers to “Cathedral’s owner of 38 years, Michael Madden.”

      • textdoc

        I googled Cathedral Pharmacy, the person named in the rhrealitycheck.org article (Paul Beringer), and Michael Madden.

        The one hit I got says that Michael Madden is the owner and Paul Beringer is the president.

        So it sounds like he is indeed affiliated with the pharmacy, but that the rhrealitycheck.org article incorrectly identified him as the owner.

        (The article says: “Cathedral Pharmacy owner Paul Beringer, a Catholic, will not provide the morning-after pill. ‘I consider it abortion,’ he says. Non-emergency contraception is dispensed on a case-by-case basis . . .”)

        • Anonymous

          Thanks for the info.

    • caballero

      Can we stop calling everyone we disagree with “anti-woman” or “misogynistic?” Jeez, there are plenty of women who are opposed to abortions and even birth control. Let’s say they are anti-birth control or anti-abortion rather than anti-women. This type of rhetoric turns off a lot of people who would otherwise give you a fair hearing.

      • Madison


      • Good Riddance

        I think when a business has a policy that discriminates against women, it’s fair to call them anti-woman. Their policy shows disrespect to women by implying that the pharmacist knows “better” than the woman and the doctor who prescribed her medication.

        • Madison

          It is not quite that simple, and I think you know that. I am a woman who disagrees with you. Does my support of or belief in certain Catholic doctrines (as this pharmacist does) mean that I oppose myself? Hardly. This debate is a bit more complicated for a neighborhood blog exchange. However, just know that there are indeed plenty of women like me and we don’t consider ourselves anti-woman. Quite the opposite, actually.

          • elcal

            As a Catholic (Christian), did your sect’s past murder of Protestants mean the Church was anti-Christian? Yes, and lots of Christians believed in it. Just because women agree with the church’s stance on abortion doesn’t mean the concept of denying women a public health option isn’t anti-women.

          • Anon

            Being against birth control isnt an issue of conviction its an issue of how willfully ignorant can you be to blindly follow something that is so blatantly wrong. This catholic doctrine was made despite all scientific evidence saying its not “murder”. Preventing fertilization isnt the same thing as terminating a pregnancy.

            So, the fact that you’ve adopted this insane point of view doesnt mean you oppose yourself, it just means you oppose logic and facts and prefer a world view that has been proven wrong and is outdated.

      • Anonymous

        i agree. i think it’s ridiculous to call them incorrect terms. these people are not mysogynist, or anti woman or whatever else you want to call them.

        but they are living in the past and those beliefs help in the long slow death of the catholic church.

        but at least their cool churches will make nice condos and bars someday.

  • lou

    Thanks for mentioning this Good Riddance. I loathe the large corporations and CVS in particular, but…good riddance!

  • RnR

    Gosh, it appears there is a reason people might prefer CVS in this case! People, do research before jumping on an anti-corporate agenda. Small local business owners are not necessarily saintly.

    I also don’t see what’s wrong with pharmacies being audited to make sure they don’t have errors. We can question the motives of CVS here, but the idea seems ok.

    • Anonymous

      I am all in favor of a system that forces bigots and jerks to be diligent in making sure they follow the rules.

    • elcal

      What’s wrong with a CVS-owned entity auditing a CVS competitor, thereby denying them customers…Um, conflict of interest?

      • Cornholio


        Not sure how some people think this is OK. Regardless of the religious affiliation of ownership and their attitude, this is corporate monopoly in action…you don’t sell to them when they make you an offer, they will dispatch high priced attorneys and auditors to find something to go with. Small business owners cannot be expected to shoulder this cost – the loss in revenue coupled with his legal costs likely mean the end of his business.

        • Anonymous

          CVS has anything but a monopoly on pharmacy services in DC. There are plenty of pharmacies.

          There aren’t a lot of independent pharmacies.

  • Cornholio

    All of the liberals (yes, I am making an assumption) who are ranting about the pharmacies refusal to fill certain birth control pills and saying this place is getting what it deserves, you know you are tacitly endorsing corporate hegemony, right?

    I find that much more disturbing that refusing to fill a subscription for Plan B.

    A Fellow Liberal

    • elcal

      I’m ranting about both situations. And I agree, the monopoly is more disturbing to me because Mr. Catholic Rx is really an anomaly in this area and women have the right not to patronize his store (and have many other options). Although, the true liberal case would be Target stores in MN which were refusing birth control and are a huge nasty corporation. People could also make a reasoned case that he is discriminating to get him shut down rather than some robber baron style tactic.

    • Anonymous

      I’m a pro-capitalism liberal.

      Thing is, I’ve rarely had any problems at CVS.

      They might be a gigantic corporation, but that also means that they have company-wide policies that lead them to having a lot more to lose if they are jerks, especially now in the information age where one person getting treated unfairly can bring down the entire internet on them.

      A useful analogy, to me at least, is that in this case the local shop is like Alabama schools before integration, while CVS is like the Feds. Becuase they are focused nation-wide, they have a more even handed and equitable approach – they simply have to given their nation wide exposure.

      Sure, it’s a vast generalization, and plenty of national chains have biased policies. But in THIS case the local shop is the biased one. So, I’m for CVS in this case.

      The other lesson here is this: don’t be a jerk and when the chips are down, people will help out. But if you treat half the population like they can’t make their own medical decisions, then don’t expect as many people to help you out when things get rough. Again, this is a generalization of the argument at hand, but I think it’s apt.

      • elcal

        Wait, how can CVS possibly be in the right? (Not to mention your wildly skewed analogy.) This is a case of monopoly, corruption and gross conflict of interest. CVS’s actions could ostensibly be applied to any independent pharmacy all over the country in order to put them out of business. THAT is some serious fucking bias.

        • Anonymous

          CVS does not have a monopoly position in the DC market or even in the region.

    • Anon

      uh, no. I’m happy this place is going out of business because its advancing an antiquated and discriminatory view. It is also a health care provider making decisions based on ideology rather than science.

      So liking that these people are not going to be able to do business anymore is not the same thing as “tacitly endorsing corporate hegemony” whatever that mumbo jumbo rhetorical bullshit really means.

    • C3PO

      Of all the historically oppressed groups, women are the only ones who are routinely expected to suck up the affront and ignore it because there’s another “bigger and better” cause at stake. So what if we get fucked over? Aren’t monopolies more evil than sexist policies that seek to tell women how to live and what they can do with their bodies?

      I wonder if this store sells Viagra? Hey, old men, if God wanted your peckers to work, than he’d make them work!

      My apologies for the vulgarity, but it’s been a long day, and I am continually disgusted by this attitude.

  • Mr. Poon

    I lamented the death of the neighborhood pharmacy on here a few weeks back, and I caught some crap for it.

    While it’s true that local pharmacies aren’t always better than chains, I’d hold that most CVS locations in the District are terrible places. I also think this CVS-Caremark unholy alliance is probably a trust that the DOJ ought to think about busting.

    There are CVSs like the one by the State Department (wherever it is — Foggy Bottom somewhere) that aren’t busy and have a pharmacist with a face, but in the rest of NW, it’s almost impossible to find a competently-run CVS pharmacy. If you’re set on using a chain, I’d suggest a Giant or a Target, where they don’t fill 500 scripts/day.

    • Cornholio

      Off topic – how did you upload the avatar pic? WordPress gives me a file upload error each time I try to do it. I have been attempting for a few months now and cannot figure it out.

    • Anonymous

      CVS Pharmacy in Capitol Hill is fantastic. Good luck with your “I hare money” worldview.

      • PN

        Not in my one and only experience there. The pharmacist made an error in her data input and insisted that I had no refills available, when I was positive that I had at least 4 left. I tried to tell her this and asked her to check again, but she refused to believe that there was any way she could be incorrect and essentially yelled at me to leave the store and stop holding up her line. (I hadn’t been causing a scene and was perfectly polite the entire time, but since I knew I was right and I needed to start the medication that day, I didn’t want to leave until she figured out what she had done wrong so I could take my prescription with me. But she dismissed me from the start and was not willing to work with me at all to determine what could have happened.) I left practically in tears and called the previous CVS that had filled the prescription. They confirmed that I did have a number of authorized refills available, so I asked them to call the Capitol Hill CVS and tell the pharmacist that this was the case. I went back later after the two stores had communicated, and the pharmacist filled it, but without so much as a simple apology for making a mistake or for berating me for her mistake.

        All that to say that while you may have good experiences there, it is not universal, and what happened to me there is similar to how I’ve been treated at most CVS stores – I go out of my way to be a polite, friendly customer wherever I take my business, and I am widely met with apathy and indifference at CVS in particular. I switched my prescriptions from CVS as soon as I moved somewhere with a viable alternative and am more than happy to pass multiple CVS locations on my way to pharmacies that will at least pretend that they care about my business.

  • iwill

    1. The Caremark-CVS devilish duo does worry me. The PTBs should look into that.

    2. This pharmacy failed an audit. I don’t doubt that many of the regional CVS pharmacies would fail the same audit. But we aren’t talking about them

    3. I considered this man on par with a faith healer who will pray away the flu/cancer/broken bone. The problem is he’s passing himself off as a legitimate medical professional. He’s bring religion to a scientific profession. What other job can you refuse to do just because people are doing legal and scientifically based things that you disagree with?

    4. I do Walgreens mail-order. Cheaper and delivered FTW! They’re never out of stock and the support line people have the greatest southern accents. I get tempted to call just to say hi.

  • Michael Ross

    I’m the organizer of the petition to save Cathedral Pharmacy and here’s a direct link so you don’t have to search for it on the petition site:


    For more background–and an idea of why Cathedral Pharmacy is special to us–a story I did is here:




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