(Washington, DC)— An ad campaign launched today by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) highlights the comments of a top drugstore lobbyist to show that Assembly Bill 5502-B would raise the cost of prescription medications for consumers and payers in New York. The bill is currently awaiting transmission to Governor Andrew Cuomo for signature or veto.
While admitting in a recent New York Times article that the bill includes a provision that will let unions continue using mail-service pharmacies to save money, Craig Burridge, executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, says businesses should no longer be extended the same privilege. According to the New York Times story:
“Drug plans negotiated by labor unions would be exempt from the law, said Craig Burridge, executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, if the unions required members to use mail-order pharmacies as a way of saving money.”
“It’s wrong for drugstores to ask Governor Cuomo to sign a bill that enriches them by making businesses and consumers pay more for prescription drugs. In this economy, employers need every cost saving tool they can get and mail-service pharmacy is at the top of the list,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.
In a letter to New York State Senator James Seward last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned that Assembly Bill 5502-B would have the “unintended consequence of harming consumers” and would likely “raise prices for, and reduce access to, prescription drugs, which are an increasingly important component of medical care.”
Home delivery is 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. Numerous other government and peer-reviewed data have confirmed the increased savings, safety, and adherence provided by mail-service pharmacies, including:
- The Journal of General Internal Medicine: In a report released last month, the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that patients receiving their prescription medications through a mail-service pharmacy achieved better cholesterol control compared to those who obtained their statin prescriptions from their local pharmacy.
- 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.