A new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) analysis comparing mail-service pharmacies and retail pharmacies in Medicare Part D (“Part D Claims Analysis: Negotiated Pricing Between General Mail Order and Retail Pharmacies”), finds that mail-service pharmacies have lower overall costs, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today.
In its analysis, CMS identified 57 plan sponsors offering prescription drug plans (PDPs) with mail-order benefits and examined claims data for the top 25 brand and top 25 generic drugs dispensed at both mail order and retail pharmacies.
“CMS’ data confirms what consumers have known for years: mail-service pharmacies offer a better deal than drugstores in Medicare Part D. This is unwelcome news for drugstore lobbyists who want new regulations on their more affordable competitors,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.
Key points from the analysis include:
- Overall costs at mail-service pharmacies were 16% less than retail pharmacies ($1.26 per pill at mail vs. $1.50 at retail) across all drugs.
- For generic drugs only, mail-service pharmacies were 13% less expensive than retail pharmacies ($0.21 per pill at mail vs. $0.24 at retail).
While it’s clear in the data, the report summary fails to note the central point: mail-service pharmacies typically charge much lower drug prices than drugstores. This is reminiscent of an April CMS study (“Part D Claims Analysis: Negotiated Pricing Between Preferred and Non-Preferred Pharmacy Networks”) that downplayed its conclusion that the vast majority of preferred drugstores charge lower drug prices than non-preferred drugstores.