(Washington, DC)— As the economy recovery continues to lag, employers are looking for new ways to increase competition and reduce health care costs. Running counter to these goals, independent drugstores are instead pushing an agenda that takes away employers’ ability to save money by offering lower cost home delivery options for chronic medications, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today.

“As the economic recovery sputters, independent drugstores shouldn’t shoulder employers with higher costs,” said Charles Coté, PCMA Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communications. “Instead of opposing employers’ ability to offer the lower cost home delivery option for long-term prescriptions, independent drugstores should offer solutions that actually reduce costs for employers.”

Home delivery is enormously popular with patients because it offers 90-day prescriptions that are less expensive and is more convenient than driving to the drugstore every 30 days. With mail-service pharmacies, patients can get private counseling over the phone from trained pharmacists seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Home delivery also solves one of the biggest problems in health care: 25 percent of patients don’t pick up the drugs prescribed by their doctors.

Numerous government and peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that mail-service pharmacies lower costs for consumers and payers, make far fewer errors, and increase medication adherence for those suffering from chronic conditions.

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC concluded in a 2005 report that PBM-owned mail-order pharmacies offer lower prices on prescription drugs than retail pharmacies and are very effective at capitalizing on opportunities to dispense generic medications.
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): In January 2003, the GAO examined the value provided by PBMs participating in the federal employees’ health plan. For prescription drugs dispensed through mail-order pharmacies, the average mail-order price was about 27 percent below the average cash-price paid by consumers for a brand name at a retail pharmacy and 53 percent below the average cash-price paid for generic drugs.
  • Pharmacotherapy: Official Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy: Peer-reviewed data found that highly automated mail-service pharmacies dispensed prescriptions with 23 times greater accuracy than retail pharmacies. The mail-service error rate was zero in several of the most critical areas, including dispensing the correct drug, dosage, and dosage form.
  • American Journal of Managed Care: Consumers receiving their prescription medications for chronic conditions through a mail-service pharmacy “were more likely to take them as prescribed by their doctors than did patients who obtained them from a local pharmacy.” Key findings from the study include:
    • Mail-order pharmacy users were more likely than local pharmacy users to have a financial incentive to fill their prescriptions by mail (49.6 percent vs. 23.0 percent), and to live a greater distance away from a local pharmacy (8.0 miles vs. 6.7 miles).
    • 84.7 percent of patients who received their medications by mail at least two-thirds of the time stuck to their physician-prescribed regimen, versus 76.9 percent who picked up their medications at “brick and mortar” Kaiser Permanente pharmacies.