Helping Protect Supply of Medicines Potentially Useful for COVID-19 Treatment

Preventing supply shortages for potential coronavirus treatments, also used for chronic conditions
April 8, 2020

We are working with our clients to implement new measures to balance the growing interest in off-label use of certain prescription medicines to treat COVID-19 pneumonia with the ongoing needs of members who use those drugs to help manage chronic conditions such as lupus, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. While we are seeing increased demand for certain products, our goal is to limit stockpiling of medication that could result in future shortages and gaps in care.

Pharmacy benefit managers play an important role at the center of the pharmaceutical supply chain. Our advanced analytics allow us to quickly identify changes in prescribing patterns and enable us to take proactive steps to help ensure the integrity of the supply chain. We are taking additional steps today to limit stockpiling that could result in future shortages and gaps in care. We will continue to anticipate and support the needs of our clients, who collectively provide prescription drug coverage for more than 90 million members.
Alan Lotvin, M.D.
Executive Vice President and President of CVS Caremark

With client consent, we are setting appropriate limits on the quantity of certain medicines which may potentially be used to treat COVID-19. Members who already take medicines for approved uses will be able to bypass the new quantity limits.

We continue to proactively study the latest clinical literature and consider what additional measures may be needed to help facilitate access to any other newly identified treatments as they emerge during this extraordinary public health situation.
Sree Chaguturu, M.D.
Senior Vice President, CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark

Understanding that it may be harder for members to see their health care providers during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are extending previously-approved prior authorizations for most medications set to expire before June 30. For instance, if a current prior authorization is set to expire on May 15, the expiration date will be extended to August 15. This step will enable members to refill most medications without renewing an existing prior authorization – not only providing them peace of mind, but also helping to reduce the volume of phone calls and other administrative burdens on physicians’ offices and pharmacies.

Measures Already in Place to Help Ensure Ongoing Access

These additional steps build on actions we have already taken to protect the drug supply and enhance members’ ability to refill and access their prescriptions from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Learn more about actions already taken to ensure ongoing member access >

For instance, we recently worked with clients to make it easier for members to refill most 30-day prescription maintenance medications earlier than usual – by waiving commonly used early refill limits, which require members to use most of the medication on hand before obtaining a refill.

UPDATE, JUNE 12: Beginning June 15th, members can call their pharmacy and ask if they are eligible to refill their prescription early due to COVID-19.

In addition, most plan members have the ability to obtain 90-day prescriptions of maintenance medications delivered to their homes, or another location of their choice, at no extra charge. We have also been working with plan sponsors to proactively remind members of this plan option since the COVID-19 outbreak began. We expect to see a 20 percent increase in members receiving a 90-day prescription supply of prescription medicines in the coming weeks.

CVS Health Managing Ongoing Supply

We will continue to actively manage our supply to ensure our ability to continue to fill prescriptions in CVS Health’s retail, mail and specialty pharmacies.

This article was originally published on March 25 and updated on April 8, and on June 12. The content was originally published on

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April 8, 2020