(Washington, DC) — Seeking to continue charging Medicaid patients high prescription drug prices, Florida independent drugstores are attacking the state’s efforts to lower costs and improve safety by encouraging home delivery of chronic medications.
“Everyone knows that mail-service pharmacies make prescriptions more affordable for consumers, employers, and unions,” said Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) President and CEO Mark Merritt. “Independent drugstore owners that fight home delivery put their profits ahead of patients.”
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 also get private counseling over the phone from trained pharmacists seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
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.
A new ad campaign highlights the clear choice Florida policymakers have in finding savings for the state’s Medicaid program: cut benefits for patients or overpayments to independent drugstores. Florida could save $473 million over the next decade by cutting independent drugstore overpayments and modernizing its pharmacy benefits to be more like those in Medicare and commercial plans.
Research shows consumers have broad access to pharmacy choices in urban, suburban, and rural areas, as an average of 21 pharmacies are located and compete near independent pharmacies throughout the United States. The independent drugstore lobby’s own economic report found that 400 new stores opened last year amidst what was a very profitable year for the industry despite the economic downturn.