Drug management program (DMP) - Chapter 8, 2022 UnitedHealthcare Administrative Guide

We have a program that can help ensure members safely use their prescription opioid medications and other medications that are frequently abused. If members use opioid medications from several doctors or pharmacies, we may talk to you to make sure opioid medications are appropriate and medically necessary. Working with you, if we decide the use of prescription opioid medications is not safe, we may limit how the member can get those medications. The limitations may include:

  • Requiring the member to get all prescriptions for opioid medications from certain pharmacies.
  • Requiring the member to get all prescriptions for opioid medications from certain doctors.
  • Limiting the amount of opioid medications we will cover for the member.

The DMP may not apply to members who have certain medical conditions, such as cancer. It may not apply to members receiving hospice, palliative, or end-of-life care, or who live in a long-term care facility.

If you have questions about the program, contact Optum Case Management at 1-855-218-3456.

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances

To help address the misuse and abuse of opioids and other controlled substances, OptumRx home delivery pharmacy requires electronic prescribing for controlled substances. Several resources are available at to help you get started.

This only affects OptumRx home delivery services. If e-prescribing is not an option, members still have access to the retail pharmacy network.

Exceptions process

We delegate prior authorization services to OptumRx. OptumRx staff adhere to CMS requirements, 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 in the following paragraphs. If you request an exception, you must also submit a supporting statement explaining why you are requesting an exception.

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 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 we do cover, or if you should request an exception.

You can request an authorization or exception by:

This online service enables health care professionals to submit a real-time prior authorization request 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After logging on at with a unique 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: 1-800-711-4555

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 by phone, letter or fax to request a member be switched to a preferred alternative drug.