Surescripts cuts off vendor linked to Amazon unit, citing misuse

Surescripts, a company that enables electronic prescribing of drugs, terminated its contract with a vendor that it says improperly requested access to patients’ medication histories.

It contends that the vendor gave the medication histories to Amazon.com’s PillPack subsidiary.

Surescripts, which is partially owned by two of the largest pharmacy benefit managers, said in a statement Monday it has alerted the FBI and stopped its vendor, ReMy Health, from accessing its network.

ReMy Health didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for PillPack said that its customers authorize PillPack to assemble their medication history. PillPack was previously warned that Surescripts might cut off its access to the data through ReMy, CNBC reported July 19, citing unidentified sources.

Surescripts accused ReMy of breaking the terms of their contract by providing information about patients’ medication history improperly. That information, which resides in Surescripts’ systems, is supposed to be shared only with medical providers when delivering care or planning a patient’s discharge, Surescripts said.

“Pharmacists need a comprehensive understanding of the medications each customer is taking,” and customers permit PillPack to access their history, PillPack spokeswoman Jacquelyn Miller said in an email.

“Given that Surescripts is, to our knowledge, the sole clearinghouse for medication history in the United States, the core question is whether Surescripts will allow customers to share their medication history with pharmacies, and if not, why not?” Miller said.

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The contract termination is the latest twist in an ongoing fight between established players in the pharmacy supply chain and Amazon, which threatens to disrupt it. Amazon’s $1 billion purchase of PillPack last year sent shares of drugstore chains like CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance tumbling.

Surescripts said it began investigating ReMy Health last fall when it noticed that almost all of ReMy’s requests for patient medication history were linked to a single national provider identifier, or NPI, a unique designation that the federal government assigns to all medical providers. Surescripts said it later discovered that ReMy was providing the information to PillPack, though the requests for medication history never came from PillPack’s NPI.

“Either ReMy Health or its customers concealed unauthorized access to the Surescripts network by fraudulently using third-party providers’ identifying information to access the system—even though those providers appear to be entirely unrelated to the patients whose information was requested,” Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said in the statement.

Arlington, Via.-based Surescripts is owned by associations of pharmacies and chain drugstores as well as Cigna and CVS. CVS has sued to enforce a noncompete agreement to keep one of its former executives from joining PillPack.

Bloomberg News