Mail-service and specialty pharmacies will save consumers, employers, unions, and government plans a combined $311 billion over the next decade, according to new research from Visante, released today by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).

“Home delivery of traditional and specialty drugs offers one of the easiest ways to reduce health costs,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. “Policymakers should reject the drugstore lobby’s agenda to restrict these cost-saving tools in order to boost their own profits.”

Pharmacists continue to rate among the top 10 best jobs in the country with high incomes and very good projected earnings growth, according to the latest Jobs Rated report from CareerCast.com. The average pharmacist owning a single pharmacy earned approximately $245,000 in 2012, while those owning multiple pharmacies earned about $1 million, according to an analysis of the independent drugstore lobby’s own research.

The growth of Amazon.com and other online retailers that use home delivery shows that consumers want more convenience and savings. For patients with chronic conditions like high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis, mail-service pharmacies save money and offer the convenience of getting prescriptions delivered to their homes.

Major findings from the new Visante study include:

  • Mail-service pharmacies will save an estimated $5.1 billion for consumers, employers, and other payers in 2015, and $59.6 billion over the 10-year period 2015-24.
  • Specialty pharmacies will save an estimated $13.5 billion for consumers, employers, and other payers in 2015, and $251.5 billion over the 10-year period 2015-24.
  • Combined, mail-service and specialty pharmacies will save an estimated $18.6 billion for consumers, employers, and other payers in 2015, and $311 billion over the 10-year period 2015-24.

Read the study.

The study highlights several benefits of mail-service pharmacies:

  • Provide superior safety as opposed to brick-and-mortar drugstores;
  • Encourage generic drug use;
  • Improve patient adherence;
  • Increase efficiency;
  • Offer patients access to 24/7 counseling and support; and
  • Minimize “waste” that occurs at drugstores.

The Visante study also details the increasing importance and advantages of specialty pharmacies. Because injectable biologic medications often require special handling, clinical protocols, and can cost many thousands of dollars per dose,the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and manufacturers establish strict distribution, use, and safety requirements. These requirements include:

  • Adhering to rigorous storage, shipping and handling standards to meet FDA product label shipping requirements, such as temperature control, and timely deliveries of the product in optimal condition;
  • Providing round-the-clock access to pharmacists, nurses and clinicians dedicated to and specially trained with respect to the disease state treated by the drug, the specialty drug, and the drug’s potential side effects;
  • Performing disease-specific and drug-specific patient care management services that meet the unique needs of each patient and that incorporate multiple safeguards when dispensing and delivering the drug to ensure patient safety;
  • Collecting data and tracking outcomes for specific patients as required by the FDA; and
  • Managing compliance and persistency of drug regimens for patients.

A national survey of physicians who prescribe specialty medications found that just 5% believe that all drugstores “have the expertise and capability to provide the different types of specialty medications to patients.” In addition, a recent report on specialty pharmacies notes that “specialty drugs require a level of experience and expertise that most drugstores simply do not possess.”