Steve Miller: Cigna Hasn't Seen Any Coronavirus-related Drug Shortages

Cigna, which now owns Express Scripts and its large mail order business, isn’t experiencing any drug shortages because of the new coronavirus epidemic, according to Steve Miller, the company’s chief clinical officer.

“Right now, none,” Miller said in response to a question about drug shortages. “So far the supply chains are doing well.

Miller was a speaker today at the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute’s national conference. The new coronavirus came up during the question-and-answer session after his wide-ranging talk about healthcare affordability.

Miller said he has been dealing with the bnew coronavirus for some time because Cigna has 1,500 employees in Wuhan, China, where the epidemic is believed to started. In a brief interview after his talk, his said the company is not disclosing how many of those patients were infected with COVID-19.

After hurricanes and other disasters, some insurers and PBMs have lifted restrictions on medication refills. Miller said lifting restrictions now because of COVID-19 could lead to drug shortages. If restrictions are lifted it should be done “very selectively," he said.

Miller told the audience that the supply chain for generics is about two months, which is shorter than the brand-name drugs. Most of the raw materials from generics come from China. Miller said producers of those materials are now back on line.