Back to Blog

PBMs Providing Patient Access to Medicine During COVID-19


Today, millions of Americans are staying home during the threat of COVID-19. Access to affordable prescription drugs remains essential for Americans who rely on prescription medicine to stay healthy. The members of the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs (CAPD) are stakeholders on the front lines responsible for sustaining that access. We continue to collaborate ensuring patients can access their prescriptions safely, reliably and at the lowest possible cost.

Ensuring Continued Access to Medicine

One of our highest priorities is delivering uninterrupted access to critical medicine for patients, with options to access prescriptions while socially distancing. To help patients, many PBMs have eased early refill restrictions on prescriptions, increased home delivery and taken other steps to ensure that patients have enough of their medication on hand. In just the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands of early refills were processed by some of the country’s largest PBMs.

To help flatten the curve of COVID-19’s spread, PBMs are helping limit patient exposure by providing more convenient mail-order options to ship prescription drugs safely and quickly to patients. This reduces hassle for patients by preventing the need for multiple trips to the pharmacy while also improving adherence to medications. In uncertain times, it ensures that patients will have enough medication on hand to maintain their health.

Additionally, many Americans rely on complex and often expensive drugs that must be administered in person through infusion services. PBM infusion services are using pre-visit screenings to assess if a patient is symptomatic to provide access to needed medicine while maintaining the safety of both patients and staff.

Protecting the Supply of Medicine

Finally, as interest in potential off-label uses of some drugs for COVID-19 has increased, PBMs are helping to ensure that drugs remain available for patients who rely on them for chronic conditions. Utilization management requirements are helping to prevent hoarding or stockpiling of these medications so patients with existing medical needs can access them reliably and quickly.

Keeping Coverage Affordable Beyond COVID-19

These actions are critical to help as many patients as possible stay home and stay safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In the longer term, these PBM tools will be critical to keeping drug costs down for businesses, unions and government programs across America, especially as health spending increases and enrollment in safety-net programs like Medicaid spikes.

With the current pandemic it is increasingly important for public and private employers to keep costs down. The collaboration between these purchasers and PBMs to provide health care coverage to over 266 million Americans has never been more critical.

During this crisis and beyond, patients can count on PBMs to use their expertise and their negotiating power to make sure they have access to the medicine they need at the lowest cost possible. CAPD’s members remain committed and ready to do our part for patients during these very challenging times.