Restricting Access to Mail-Service Pharmacies Increases Prescription Drug Costs for New York Consumers, Employers, Unions
Proposal Enriches Independent Drugstores at Expense of Patients
(Washington, DC)— The New York State Senate's budget includes a legislative proposal that would take away private and public sector payers' ability to provide lower cost home delivery options for chronic medications, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today.
"Everyone knows that mail-service pharmacies make prescriptions more affordable for consumers, employers, and unions," said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. "This proposal would enrich independent drugstores at the expense of patients and put New York in an even deeper budgetary hole than it is already in."
Home delivery of prescription medications is a benefit for consumers who appreciate the added convenience and access to private counseling from a trained clinician seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Numerous government and peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that mail-service pharmacies lower costs for consumers and payers, make far fewer errors, and increase medication adherence for those suffering from chronic conditions.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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:
o 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).
o 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.