Express Scripts Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated 6.4.2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020
Express Scripts COVID-19 Policy Update: Early Refill Limits to be Reinstated on June 19, 2020

In response to COVID-19, early refill restrictions were temporarily waived for all clients, helping ensure members had access to medications while sheltering in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19. With state governments beginning to ease guidelines and focusing on reopening the economy, plan member access to medical services and local pharmacies will increase. As this continues, some of the exceptions implemented due to the pandemic will not be needed.

Effective June 19, 2020, Express Scripts (ESI) will no longer waive early refill limits on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications. At that time, claims for maintenance medications will process in accordance with your standard refill thresholds, and the non-emergency refill threshold limits will again apply.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
ESI Making Formulary Changes for Albuterol Inhalers 

Due to limited availability of Ventolin® HFA inhalers, effective April 14, 2020, new prescriptions for Ventolin® will be automatically converted to ProAir® (or its generic) for clients supporting both products on formulary. The goal of the Express Scripts Pharmacy is to maintain access to therapy for patients currently established on Ventolin®, while also ensuring new patients receive a sustainable therapy. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
ESI Announces New COVID-19 Anti-Stockpiling Efforts

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Express Scripts has updated its recommendations in an effort to protect medication supplies for patients with clinical necessity and applied new utilization limits to curb unnecessary stockpiling.

These new COVID-19 Anti-Stockpiling policies and quantity limits are designed to combat the stockpiling of specific, currently available medications that may be used to manage COVID-19 thereby protecting the supplies of these therapies. Clients who are enrolled in an Advanced Utilization Management package are being auto-updated with these new limits for no additional fee. These limits are not overly restrictive and are intended for temporary, limited-time use to protect the availability of the following drugs:

  1. Chloroquine
  2. Plaquenil
  3. Kaletra
  4. Zithromax
  5. Albuterol/levalbuterol

Note, these are therapies intended for acute, inpatient treatment for COVID-19. There is no current approval or clinical evidence for using these therapies for prevention or treatment of outpatient, mild COVID-19 cases.

This is not a custom list, so there is no need or ability to make changes. If a client wants to opt-out of these quantity limits, they may inform their account team. Express Scripts may retire these COVID-19 Anti-Stockpiling quantity limits in the future depending on marketplace developments.

To further support anti-stockpiling practices, Concurrent Drug Utilization Review alerts have been added to remind pharmacists to check the diagnosis and quantity for COVID-19 therapies. This helps drive consistency at the pharmacy, so pharmacists can clearly communicate with a member.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
ESI Change in Retail Shipping Options

Only pharmacies credentialed as mail order in the Express Scripts pharmacy network are contractually permitted to mail prescriptions. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Express Scripts is granting CVS and Walgreens (via their Walgreens Express™ delivery program) a limited out-of-network delivery exception and will permit them to provide free home delivery of prescriptions to Express Scripts’ members in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited. There are no day-supply limits or drug category limits for this service beyond what is allowed by law. This agreement is solely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be in place for 30 days, upon which time it will be revisited by Express Scripts to determine if it is still necessary. The exception went into place for CVS the week of March 16 and for Walgreens the week of March 23.

All CVS and Walgreens retail locations have been notified.

ESI will continue to assess the situation and will provide updates as additional information is known.

Members can also have peace of mind with their prescription medications by using the Express Scripts Pharmacy, which offers free home delivery of up to 90-day supplies of prescription maintenance medications. Pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions, offer counseling and support, and assist with prescription orders. Members are encouraged to refill their medications responsibly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
RxBenefits Clients with ESI Gain Access to Early Refills Effective 03/20/2020

RxBenefits has taken steps to protect member access to medication. Effective 03/20/2020, all RxBenefits clients with Express Scripts will be able to access up to 2 early refill options on prescription medications. Currently, clients have standard refill policies in place, which allow you to refill or renew a prescription medication when 25%-35% of your current prescription is remaining. The new early refill options would waive early refill limits for medications at any pharmacy. We continue to encourage members to carefully evaluate their options to avoid supply shortages or concerns. Schedule II controlled substance medications will still require a new prescription for additional fills.

Pharmacies will be receiving directions from Express Scripts prior to the 03/20/2020 effective date on how to process these early refill prescriptions. If you believe that your medication should be eligible for an override, and it was not applied, advise the pharmacist to contact the ESI Helpdesk for guidance or please contact your RxBenefits Member Services team at RxHelp@RxBenefits.com or call 800.334.8134.

Friday, March 13, 2020
Express Scripts Measures to Help Control the Spread of Coronavirus

Dear Valued Client:

As your partners in health, RxBenefits and Express Scripts are working together to implement active measures to help you control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We wanted to share Express Scripts’ (ESI) policy that will allow members a one-time early refill of acute, maintenance, or specialty medications. This could make it easier for members to access maintenance medications and keep an ample supply on hand, should they need to self-quarantine now or in the near future, per guidance from the CDC and other US health officials.

Recently some states have declared a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This is usually a declaration following a weather-related emergency, and triggers refill overrides. The current COVID-19 situation does not call for this response. Implementing overrides prematurely could have a negative downstream effect on the supply chain and disruption to current inventories.

A client can decide to allow or not allow early refills. However, ESI is encouraging clients to carefully evaluate their options to avoid supply shortages or concerns. If a client chooses to turn on the early refill override, they must let their account management team know. It is important to specify if this option is turned on for all states, or just specific ones. The client must also stipulate how long they want this option to be active. Schedule II controlled substance medications will still require a new prescription for additional fills. The early refill allowance may be used one time for each prescription while the option is active. It generally takes 3-5 business days for this option to go into effect.

Click Here to hear ESI’s Dr. Steve Miller answer questions on COVID-19.

This is a rapidly evolving situation which we continue to monitor closely. As new information unfolds, we will keep you informed on any new details that impact your pharmacy benefits plan.

Please reach out to your account management team with any questions you may have.

Client Services | 866.769.5987 
clientservices@rxbenefits.com

Member Services | 800.334.8134
rxhelp@rxbenefits.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Can a Member Get an Early Refill of Their Medications?

Express Scripts understands the desire to be prepared. Standard refill policies, which allow you to refill or renew a prescription medication when 25%-35% of your current prescription is remaining, should help you stay on track with your medication during this time.

ESI is monitoring the situation closely and will update their information and policy if or when the situation changes. They are committed to taking appropriate actions to ensure you have the medication on hand to keep you healthy.

If members currently fill 30-day supplies of their medication at a local pharmacy and would like a longer-term supply, they can ask their physician to write a prescription for a 90-day supply and fill it at Express Scripts Home Delivery. Members can get started here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Take Steps to Protect Yourself by Getting Your Medication Delivered Right to Your Home

  • Free Shipping
    Standard shipping is included as part of your prescription plan
  • Up to a 3-month supply
    Get up to a 3-month supply of your long-term medicine
  • 24/7 Support
    Express Scripts pharmacists are available 24/7 from the privacy and safety of your home

Monday, March 9, 2020
Client Options on Early Refill

A client can decide to allow or not allow early refills. However, ESI is encouraging clients to carefully evaluate their options to avoid supply shortages or concerns. If a client chooses to turn on the early refill override, it is important to specify if this this option is turned on for all states, or just specific ones. Schedule II controlled substance medications will still require a new prescription for additional fills. The early refill allowance may be used one time for each prescription while the option is active.

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