Pharmacies Across the US Are Experiencing Delays Due to Cyberattack

Pharmacies and retailers, including CVS Health and Walgreens, have reported slowdowns in dispensing prescriptions after a cyberattack impacted Change Healthcare — a nationwide prescription services company.

On February 21, Change Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare technology firms in the United States, announced the company experienced a cyberattack that disrupted several of its services and systems.

Change Healthcare, which provides prescription processing services to 67,000 U.S. pharmacies, is a subsidiary of Optum, a health technology solutions company and a part of UnitedHealth Group. In 2022, UnitedHealth Group completed its merger of Optum and Change Healthcare.


Change Healthcare said it's experiencing a cyber security issue, and the company's experts are working to address the situation.

"Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact," the company said on its website. "At this time, we believe the issue is specific to Change Healthcare, and all other systems across UnitedHealth Group are operational. The disruption is expected to last at least through the day. We will provide updates as more information becomes available."

Shortly after becoming aware of the incident, UnitedHealth Group filed a Form 8-K report with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. In the report, the company said a suspected nation-state-associated cyber security threat actor had gained access to some of Change Healthcare's information technology systems.

As a result of the attack, pharmacies nationwide, such as CVS Health, Walgreens, and Publix Supermarkets, are reporting issues with processing insurance claims, resulting in slowdowns in dispensing prescriptions.

According to a Reuters report, CVS said it could not process prescription insurance claims in some instances but is committed to ensuring access to care as it navigates through this interruption. Walgreens said that while a small percentage of its prescriptions may be impacted, the company utilizes procedures to process and fill drug orders with minimal delay or interruption.

The cyberattack has also impacted U.S. military personnel and their families. According to a Military Health System statement, military clinics and hospitals will provide outpatient prescriptions manually until this issue is resolved.

In response to the situation, the American Hospital Association (AHA) recommended that all healthcare organizations disrupted or potentially exposed by this cyberattack consider disconnection from Optum until it is deemed safe to reconnect.

The AHA says organizations that utilize Optum's services should prepare downtime procedures and contingency plans if Optum's services remain unavailable for an extended period. These procedures include manually dispensing prescriptions to consumers.

Change Healthcare says it's working diligently to restore those systems impacted by the cyberattack and resume normal operations as soon as possible. However, the estimated duration or extent of the disruptions is unknown.



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