March 5, 2013


Some assert that medication wastage is: 1) a significant problem in Medicare Part D; 2) more prevalent in mail-service than retail pharmacy; and 3) is largely caused by how a drug is dispensed.

The reality is: 1) less than 1% of medications are “wasted” in Medicare Part D; 2) two-thirds of wastage occurs among prescriptions dispensed by drugstores; and 3) wastage is largely due to discontinuation of therapy, switching to a different drug, changing dosage, death, and other reasons unrelated to how patients fill prescriptions.

Major Findings:

  • Less than 1% of all medications dispensed for Medicare beneficiaries are wasted.
  • More than two-thirds of medication wasted in Medicare is dispensed by drugstores.
  • Mail-service pharmacies are typically used only after a patient has already been stabilized on several 30-day prescriptions dispensed by a local drugstore.
  • Waste related to mail-service “auto-refill” prescriptions accounts for just 0.02% of medication dispensed in Part D.

Read the report.