PCMA Comments on New Study that Finds Mail-Service Pharmacies Improve Outcomes for Patients Using Cholesterol Medications

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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, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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While everyone knows that mail-service pharmacies make prescriptions more affordable, this new study shows how they can also improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions

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, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The study found that 85 percent of patients who used mail-order pharmacies achieved target cholesterol levels, compared to 74.2 percent of patients who only used local pharmacies.

The new study adds to the growing body of evidence that mail-service pharmacies improve patient outcomes, adding a new dimension to existing peer-reviewed and government research showing that mail-service pharmacies cost consumers less than “brick-and-mortar” pharmacies, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today.

“While everyone knows that mail-service pharmacies make prescriptions more affordable, this new study shows how they can also improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.

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. Home delivery also solves one of the biggest problems in health care: 25 percent of patients don’t pick up the drugs prescribed by their doctors.

Numerous government and peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that mail-service pharmacies lower costs for consumers and payers, improve accuracy, and increase medication adherence for those suffering from chronic conditions.

  •     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:

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.

PCMA represents the nation’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which improve affordability and quality of care through the use of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing), generic alternatives, mail-service pharmacies, and other innovative tools for 210-plus million Americans.

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