Skip to main content

Keeping member access to medication safe from the storm

Support through emergency situations helps ensure continuity of care


Lucille Accetta, RPh, MPH, MBA, Senior Vice President & Head of CVS Specialty Operations


When a winter storm in March 2022 severely disrupted the delivery network and shut down a main delivery hub, Operations Manager Glenn Foreman personally delivered a life-sustaining package from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. “I got the call at 3:55 p.m. The patient had to have the medication at 6:30 p.m.,” said Foreman, who manages a pharmacy fulfilment center in central Pennsylvania. “There was nothing to do but drive it. I didn’t even stop to fill up on gas,” he said.

Extreme weather in the United States continues to grow in frequency and severity. And the risks are rising for patients with complex, chronic conditions who need specialty medications. Without medication access, they could suffer serious health consequences along with other devastating effects such as property damage, power outages and evacuations.


Non-adherence to chronic disease medications costs nearly $290 billion a year in avoidable health care costs and leads to roughly 125,000 preventable deaths and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations each year.1


It’s crucial for patients to have enough medications on hand or access to needed prescription drugs in the face of significant weather events and other emergency situations. CVS Health monitors potential events that could affect member care and coordinates a response to provide support. We deploy staff, resources and the latest digital technology to help ensure potentially impacted patients can receive their specialty medication and continue therapy with minimal or no disruption.


Our response in action

The CVS Specialty team goes above and beyond to ensure plan members get the medication they need to stay healthy. Extreme weather events can affect manufacturing and shipments of life-sustaining medications. Across the country, we collaborate with supply chains and national shipping services to make sure drug therapies and important supplies like vials and labels are available.

This has been put to the test with recent nationwide supply chain issues and shortages of ancillary products needed to administer medications, such as sodium chloride solution and sterile water. Our Specialty pharmacies are always prepared. Due to the emergency and contingency plans in place, CVS Health has been able to maintain business continuity and medication continuity.


Ensuring medication accessibility

At CVS Specialty, we’ve built the technological infrastructure to make sure prescription needs are met for members with complex, chronic conditions within emergency areas. Our systems monitor ZIP codes and weather data to keep medications safe, reschedule patient orders and coordinate alternate delivery arrangements.

“For a city leveled by a hurricane, we can put a block on that ZIP code, so the patient’s medication won’t spoil, and find other means to get them their medication,” according to Nick Salvo, Lead Director, Pharmacy Operations. This could involve bringing in the National Guard to help get medicine deliveries through hazardous conditions or shipping medication to a family member in a different location. Life-sustaining medications can be sent to any one of our 9,000 CVS Pharmacy stores, so members can continue to access their prescriptions when and where they need them.


Why it matters

CVS Health and our Specialty pharmacies play an important role in efforts to support continuity of care. We’re investing in systems and resources to help ensure members have medication on hand and know where to obtain prescriptions when they need them. With CVS Health, accessing medication is one less thing to worry about in an emergency.


We are here to help whenever and wherever people need us – working hard to ensure our members and patients can access the medications they need quickly and safely.

©2022 CVS Health. All rights reserved. 080422