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PBMs Are Prepared to Tackle COVID-19 Shortages

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If a shortage for a specific medication does occur, PBMs will work with patients, prescribers, and key stakeholders to identify a covered therapeutic alternative.

Key stakeholders quickly responded to initial albuterol shortages by identifying new supply and making adjustments to reduce barriers to access, thereby limiting any serious health impacts on asthma patients. For their part, PBMs—part of the health care system that assists patients in utilizing prescription drug benefits—have provided preferred or lower cost-sharing on albuterol for patients. Some PBMs have helped patients access albuterol by lowering formulary requirements and giving pharmacies flexibility in filling prescriptions.

We hope this collaboration on behalf of patients continues. Looking ahead, we are already experiencing a major surge in new COVID-19 cases throughout the nation. A still dangerous “second wave” is projected just as kids are expected to head back to school and before the flu season begins this fall. Access to albuterol is crucially important and front of mind for parents of asthma patients who want to know if their children will have the inhalers they need as school systems across the country determine if it will be safe for kids to return to in-person learning. We hope that lessons learned and the same cooperation among groups who share a vested interest in how the supply chain operates continues.

As patients look ahead at their own needs, they can reach out to their pharmacy benefit manager to seek guidance or information on treatment options. Find out more about PBMs here.

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