Feb 23, 2024 - Technology

Pharmacies face prescription delays amid cyberattack

an illustration of a loading symbol made up of pills

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Patients across the country have been unable to get their prescriptions filled as health tech company Change Healthcare responds to a cyberattack.

Why it matters: It's still unclear when Change Healthcare will return to normal operations, and until then, local pharmacies that rely on the company to process payments through patients' insurance say they're facing outages and delays in filling prescriptions.

  • Change Healthcare says on its website that it handles 15 billion health care transactions each year.

Driving the news: Change Healthcare's parent company, UnitedHealth, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that a "suspected nation-state associated" hacking group had accessed some of Change Healthcare's IT systems.

  • The company disconnected impacted systems to protect patients and customer data.
  • Spokespeople did not respond to questions about how many pharmacies and customers have been affected.

Between the lines: Pharmacies across the country posted on Facebook this week that they're still unable to process prescriptions due to the Change Healthcare outages.

  • The Moncrief Army Health Clinic, a military pharmacy in South Carolina, said Thursday that it was experiencing delays dispensing prescriptions due to "the nationwide dispensing outage."
  • Canadian Lakes Pharmacy in Stanwood, Michigan, said earlier this week that the problem was affecting its ability to process prescriptions with patients' insurance providers.
  • The pharmacy at Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton, Ohio, was closed Thursday due to a "nationwide outage relating to our pharmacy software."

The big picture: Cyberattacks targeting medical organizations and health care providers have been on the rise in recent years.

  • 46 U.S. hospital systems faced a ransomware attack in 2023, according to cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.

What's next: Change Healthcare is likely to share more details about the outages and their timeline for recovering before the weekend.

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