- Cigna is suing CVS in an attempt to prevent its former pharmacy benefits president Amy Bricker from taking a job with the company.
- According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in a Missouri federal court, Bricker’s appointment as chief product officer of CVS’s consumer segment places Cigna’s trade secrets at risk and is a violation of Bricker’s noncompete agreement. Previously, Bricker was president of Cigna’s PBM Express Scripts — a major competitor of CVS Caremark.
- Along with unspecified damages, Cigna requested the court issue an order preventing Bricker from working at CVS.
CVS Caremark and Cigna’s Express Scripts are two of the largest PBMs in America. Along with the third largest — UnitedHealth’s OptumRx — they control nearly 80% of the prescription drug market, and frequently jockey for pharmacy contracts.
CVS announced Monday that Bricker would serve as chief product officer of its consumer unit beginning in February, just days after Cigna announced Bricker was leaving the company after more than two years as Express Scripts’ president.
However, Bricker’s appointment at CVS — Cigna’s “chief competitor,” according to the complaint — represents “incalculable” damage to her old employer, and requires that Bricker “inevitably require her to use and disclose Cigna’s confidential and trade secret business information for the benefit of her new employer,” according to the suit.
Only 16 of Cigna’s more than 70,000 employees are bound by noncompetes, according to the lawsuit. Bricker, as one of the highest-paid employees at the company, was one of them, the suit says. Under the agreement, Bricker is prevented from providing services to a Cigna competitor for two years.
On Jan. 10, Bricker notified Cigna that she was declining an offer to join its executive leadership team, and would instead be working for CVS on its executive team. Bricker is slated to lead a newly formed product strategy and innovation function for consumer health products at CVS and will work across business units, including those that compete with Cigna’s health services segment Evernorth.
Evernorth, which includes Express Scripts, accounts for a growing share of Cigna’s revenue.
Bricker was “privy to the business’s more highly sensitive information” given that her post reported directly to the CEO of Evernorth, the complaint alleges. That information spans all aspects of Evernorth’s business, including product development plans, strategic direction, supply chain and client and health plan relationships.
Bricker also prepared and contributed to Cigna’s business proposals when the payer was competing with CVS, including assisting in Cigna’s PBM contract win over CVS for the business of health insurer Centene, one of the largest Medicaid managed care organizations in the U.S. Before Cigna secured the business in October, Centene’s PBM contract was managed by CVS.
That contract represents some 20 million consumers and billions of dollars in revenue. CVS has said the loss of the contract will result in a $2 billion decline in revenue in 2024. It also resulted in a six-figure spot bonus for Bricker, the suit said.
CVS’s offer of employment to Bricker represents “a desperate effort by CVS to retaliate for the loss of this business by poaching Cigna’s leader in developing competitive bids for its Evernorth division,” the suit alleges.
Noncompete agreements have been a recent hot topic in healthcare after the Federal Trade Commission proposed a ban on noncompete clauses in early January. Regulators have argued they make it impossible for workers to leave for rivals, depressing worker wages and limiting competition.
If finalized, the proposal would bar future noncompetes, along with invalidating existing ones.