Drug Utilization Review Program - Chapter 7, 2018 UnitedHealthcare Administrative Guide

We conduct drug utilization reviews to help ensure members are getting safe and appropriate care. These reviews are especially important for members who have more than one doctor prescribing their medications.  

We review member drug utilization each time members fill a prescription and also by regularly reviewing our records. 

We look for medication problems such as:

  • Possible medication errors;
  • Duplicate drugs that are unnecessary because the member is taking another drug to treat the same medical condition;
  • Drugs that are inappropriate because of age or gender; 
  • Possible harmful interactions between drugs; 
  • Drug allergies; or 
  • Drug dosage errors.

If we identify any problems, we share our findings with you and discuss other alternatives. You may receive calls or faxes from our Pharmacy department following up on any findings. If you have any questions, please contact the Pharmacy department.

Exceptions Process

We delegate prior authorization services to OptumRx®. OptumRx staff adhere to benefit plan-approved criteria, National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee (NPTC) practice guidelines, and other professionally recognized standards.

We offer a formulary exception process to allow for cases where the formulary or its restrictions may not accommodate the unique medical needs of members. To request an exception, submit a prior authorization request as described below. If you request an exception, you must also submit a supporting statement explaining why the exception is being requested.

Generally, we will only approve your request for an exception if alternative drugs included on our formulary list, a lower-tiered drug, or additional utilization restrictions would not be as effective in treating the member’s condition or would cause the member to have adverse medical effects.

New members taking drugs that are not on our formulary list or for which there are restrictions should talk with you to decide if they should switch to another appropriate drug that we do cover, or if you, should request an exception.

You can request an authorization or exception by:

This online service enables physicians and health care professionals to submit a real-time prior authorization request 24 hours per day, seven days per week. After logging on at OptumRx.com with their unique National Provider Identifier (NPI) number and password, a physician or health care professional can submit patient details securely online, enter a diagnosis and medical justification for the requested medication, and, in many cases, receive authorization instantly.

  • Phone: 800-711-4555
  • Written Request: You can obtain a Commercial Prescription Prior Authorization Form – CA on OptumRx.com > Health Care Professionals Portal > Prior Authorizations.
    • Fax: 800-527-0531 for oral medications
    • Fax: 800-853-3844 for injectable/specialty medications

Generic Substitution

Our network pharmacies may recommend or give members the generic version of a drug unless you tell us otherwise. Brand-name drugs may require our approval if the generic equivalent is covered.

Therapeutic Interchange

The pharmacy may contact you via phone, letter, or fax to request that a member be switched to a preferred alternative drug.