(Washington, DC)—Medicare Part D beneficiaries who receive their diabetes medications through a mail-service pharmacy achieved greater adherence than those using retail pharmacies (49.7 percent vs. 42.8 percent), according to a new study conducted by Prescription Solutions by OptumRx and published in the Journal of Medical Economics.

“While everyone knows that mail-service pharmacies make prescriptions more affordable, this new study demonstrates they also improve adherence to diabetes medications among Medicare Part D beneficiaries,” said Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) President and CEO Mark Merritt.

Home delivery is popular with patients because it offers lower cost 90-day prescriptions for long-term, chronic conditions 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 government and peer-reviewed studies have confirmed the increased savings, safety, and adherence provided by mail-service pharmacies, including:

  • The Journal of General Internal Medicine: A report released last month in 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.