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Cyberattack slows prescription processing at military pharmacies

Military clinics and hospitals worldwide have been affected by a cyberattack on the United State’s largest commercial prescription processor, Change Healthcare, according to officials with the Defense Health Agency.

It also has affected some retail pharmacies across the country.

For the time being, officials ask for patience, “while pharmacies take longer than usual to safely fill prescription needs.”

Until the issue is resolved, military pharmacies will use a manual procedure to fill outpatient prescriptions, health officials said in a Thursday statement to Military Times. Priority goes to urgent prescriptions, followed by routine prescriptions.

“Each military hospital and clinic will continue to offer pharmacy operations based on their local manning and resources,” officials said.

On Wednesday, Change Healthcare disconnected its systems to protect patient information.

“Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact,” stated Change Healthcare’s status web page.

The latest update said the company expected the disruptions to last at least through Thursday.

The company’s website states that it provides provides “industry-leading analytics, expansive data, and unparalleled connection and data transfer between providers, payers, and consumers.”

Any references that this is caused by a technical issue with MHS Genesis are “inaccurate,” military health officials stated. Genesis is the military’s electronic health record system.

Military pharmacies around the world have been posting notices about the issue and their procedures in response.

“This is impacting pharmacies at [military treatment facilities] enterprise-wide,” read a sign posted at the 19th Medical Group pharmacy at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, shared on social media Thursday. “We do not know how long it will be down. They are working to resolve it.”

At McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, the 22nd Medical Group pharmacy posted on social media that it can’t process new prescriptions.

“However, our Pharmacy remains open and will continue to dispense already-completed prescriptions. If you need a new prescription today, please contact your prescribing physician and request that they send the prescription to an alternate pharmacy within the Tricare network.”

At Kadena Air Base in Japan, officials at the medical clinic posted on Facebook Thursday morning: “Due to a systems outage, pharmacy wait times may be longer than normal today.”

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