Cigna sues CVS, former exec Amy Bricker over noncompete agreement

Cigna has filed a lawsuit against CVS Health and Amy Bricker, a former executive, to prevent her from taking a job with the rival company.

Bricker served as the head of Express Scripts, Cigna's massive pharmacy benefit management subsidiary and a key arm of its Evernorth business. Express Scripts announced last week that it had named a new president and removed Bricker from its leadership page. Days later, CVS Health revealed that Bricker would become the chief product officer for its consumer segment beginning in February.

Express Scripts and CVS' Caremark, along with UnitedHealth Group's Optum Rx, make up the trio of PBMs that overwhelmingly dominate the market.

"Cigna will be immediately and irreparably harmed if Defendant Bricker is permitted to commence her new position with CVS," the company said in the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Missouri federal court.

A CVS Health spokesperson told Fierce Healthcare that the company does not comment on legal proceedings.

As a top executive at the company, Bricker was under Cigna's noncompete agreement, according to the lawsuit. Cigna said that just 16 employees of the 70,000 who work for the company are bound by this agreement, and, as Bricker was among the 15 highest-paid at the company, she was on that list.

"Despite holding a high-level executive role, and despite being fully aware that she had signed the non-competition agreement, and despite accepting a huge increase in compensation and extensive equity participation in exchange for signing the agreement, Bricker recently resigned from her senior leadership position with Cigna to become a member of the Executive Leadership team at Cigna’s chief competitor, Defendant CVS Health Corporation," Cigna wrote in the lawsuit.

Cigna said that in her new role, Bricker would "inevitably" be asked to reveal Cigna's "confidential and trade secret business information for the benefit of her new employer."

For example, as the president of Express Scripts, Bricker played a key role in preparing Cigna's pitch to Centene, a bid that was ultimately successful. Centene named Express Scripts as its PBM of the future, moving its 20 million members from CVS.

Bricker would also be in a position to use her knowledge of Cigna's supply chain, product development plans, strategic direction and client and health plan relationships to develop new products and services that compete directly with Cigna and Express Scripts.

Cigna is seeking a permanent injunction "to hold Bricker to her contractual obligations and to prevent Defendants from misusing Cigna’s trade secrets and confidential information" and seeks damages due to the violation of her legal obligations.