US Pharmacies Face Prescription Delays After Cyberattack on Healthcare Processor

A significant cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a unit of UnitedHealth, has severely disrupted prescription processing services across the United States, leaving pharmacies struggling to get medications to patients.

by Faruk Imamovic
SHARE
US Pharmacies Face Prescription Delays After Cyberattack on Healthcare Processor
© Getty Images/Scott Olson

A significant cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a unit of UnitedHealth, has severely disrupted prescription processing services across the United States, leaving pharmacies struggling to get medications to patients. This incident, which came to light in a recent regulatory filing, underscores the growing cyber vulnerabilities in the healthcare sector and the potential consequences for patient care.

Nationwide Disruption in Prescription Services

The cyberattack, detected by UnitedHealth on Wednesday, compromised some of Change Healthcare's systems, which play a crucial role in processing prescriptions to insurance companies for tens of thousands of pharmacies across the country.

As a result, many pharmacies have been unable to process prescriptions, directly affecting patients' access to medications. For instance, the Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton, California, announced on X (formerly known as Twitter) that it was incapable of processing any prescription claims, limiting its services to emergency and urgent prescriptions only.

Similarly, Evans Army Community Hospital in Colorado reported delays in dispensing prescriptions, affecting both new orders and refills. The impact is not limited to military facilities; companies like GoodRx, which provides prescription discounts, and Moffet Drug, a small pharmacy in Kansas, also reported service disruptions.

The Response to the Cyberattack

UnitedHealth has indicated that the attack could have been carried out by hackers sponsored by a foreign country, although the specifics of the attackers' identity or motives remain unclear.

In response to the breach, UnitedHealth isolated the impacted systems and is working closely with law enforcement to contain and mitigate the effects of the attack. This incident has prompted the American Hospital Association to advise medical facilities to disconnect from UnitedHealth’s network temporarily to avoid potential exposure to the same cyber threats.

Change Healthcare has reassured that the issue appears to be isolated to its network, with efforts underway to restore systems as quickly as possible.

Broader Implications for Healthcare Security

This cyberattack highlights the vulnerability of healthcare infrastructure to digital threats, particularly those that could be state-sponsored.

The resemblance of this incident to ransomware attacks, which have previously disrupted hospital and healthcare networks across the U.S., raises questions about the security measures in place to protect sensitive health data and critical healthcare services.

United States
SHARE