90-day refills could soon strain drug supply chain

Pharmacists are seeing a spike in patients trying to extend 30-day prescriptions to 90 days to ensure access during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that could soon strain the drug supply chain, according to Specialty Pharmacy Continuum. 

Insurers have made it easier for patients to increase their supply of medications by encouraging 90-day supplies and waiving early medication refill limits. But that could cause shortages of commonly used medications. 

A spokesperson for Cigna and Express Scripts, one of the country's largest pharmacy benefit managers, told Specialty Pharmacy Continuum the company is monitoring the situation closely but that so far they haven't seen a disruption in medication inventory. 

Alliance Rx Walgreens Prime said it is expecting a spike in 90-day prescription requests and is preparing to handle the increased volume.

The CDC has encouraged patients to consider emergency refills where possible. When a state declares a state of emergency, pharmacists are allowed to automatically issue 30-day refills of non-Schedule II drugs without consulting a physician or insurer, according to Specialty Pharmacy Continuum. 

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