CVS denies Ind. student medicine for Puerto Rico ID - needs ‘US-issued license’

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WRTV/CNN) - A pharmacy turned down a college student trying to purchase cold medicine, saying his Puerto Rico drivers license was not proper ID.

Jose Guzman Payano said the clerk told him he needed a U.S.-issued identification and still refused when he explained Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. He believes it was discrimination.

The third-year engineering student at Purdue was feeling sick, so he went to the CVS to purchase over-the-counter cold medicine. He checked out at a self-service lane.

"I scanned all my items then I scanned my Mucinex bottle," Payano said.

He was asked to show ID to buy the medicine.

"My ID is a Puerto Rican license," Payano said. "It's a driver's license, and it is a Real ID too."

He handed it over to the clerk.

"She looks at it and then she faces and looks at me again and asks me for a U.S.-issued license," he said.

Payano said it has happened to him before, even traveling at airports in the U.S. He carries his passport because of how often it happens but said the clerk wouldn't take that either.

"I need a U.S-issued license or a Visa for ID," he said he was told.

Payano couldn't believe his citizenship was being questioned.

"I proceeded to leave the CVS store with tears in my eyes," he said.

He filed a complaint with the nationwide pharmacy company and said he was told someone would call him, but that never happened.

He said he worries about his fellow Purdue students, many of whom are from other countries.

"How would any other student that's not from the U.S. and is not a U.S. citizen, what do they have to do to get over-the-counter medicine?" he said.

WRTV got a response from a CVS spokeswoman who issued a statement.

It read in part, "We apologize to the customer for his recent experience."

The statement continued, "We do consider Puerto Rican drivers licenses to be valid identification."

The spokeswoman said they are retraining the employee of the store about what IDs are acceptable.

Payano felt that what happened speaks to larger issues that Puerto Ricans in the country face every day.

"I always feel like we're always being treated as second-class citizens, especially in situations where Puerto Ricans have to provide their licenses," he said.

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