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Examples of Mail Order Pharmacy Waste and Why Mail Order is NOT Cheaper!

At the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, the group, which represents the interests of independent drugstores (like Plain City Druggist) and community pharmacists (like Joe and me) gave an important talk about the wastefulness of mail order pharmacies.

In a slide show of photos that were sent in by community pharmacies participating in the “Dispose My Meds Program” (where customers brought in unused medications for safe disposal), NCPA showed thousands of dollars in medications that mail order pharmacies continued to send to patients all the while charging the patients’ prescription plans. These were medications that the patient did not order, want, or need and ended up bringing to their local pharmacy for disposal.

Sometimes a patient was deceased, but the mail order pharmacy continued to send medications even after being told numerous times about the error. The medications continued to be billed to the insurance plan.

Other times, patients were set up on “auto-shipping” plans and received medications even when they did not need refills, just so the company could bill for and receive payments for the medicine.

Who pays for this medication waste? The business purchasing the drug plan that requires mail order, the patients themselves, and, ultimately, all of us who must cover the mounting costs of health care.

To read the full article and see lots more photos of wasted medicines (and, ultimately, wasted money), go HERE. The photo at the beginning of this article shows an example of medication waste with mail order.

And read the NCPA blog posting about this HERE.

You can also watch a video about mail order medication waste HERE.

Beyond the waste of money in unused medications, mail order pharmacies offer false savings to the companies that choose them to provide their constituents with a medication plan. While many people have the perception that going with a mail order company is cheaper for them (they get a 90 day supply for the same co-pay as a 30 day supply–which we unfairly cannot provide the patient), there are many reasons why this is NOT the case.

For one thing, many of the mail order companies get rebates from drug companies when they use their “brand name” medications. Many mail order companies have gotten into trouble via lawsuits for switching patients to more expensive brand name drugs to increase their rebate checks, passing the costs on to the companies purchasing the prescription plans and thus, ultimately, the patients.

Community pharmacists are known for trying to save patients money by switching from more costly brand drugs to equivalent generic medications. Community pharmacies don’t get any giant rebates from drug companies for doing what is right for their patients.

This is just one instance of the way mail order companies are actually more expensive than local community drugstores. To read an article that details the many, many “False Savings of Mail Order,” go HERE.

You can read lots more disturbing articles about mail order companies and the “PBMs” or “Pharmacy Benefit Managers” that provide these plans and often own the mail order companies (talk about a conflict of interest!) HERE.

If you would prefer to have the choice to get your medications from your local pharmacy and are tired of these giant companies dictating prices and limiting access to pharmacy services, please consider writing your member of Congress. Right now, we need you to write and oppose the merger of Express Scripts and Medco, which will lead to one of the most enormous mega-mergers in pharmacy history.

To read more about why this merger is a threat and to write your Congressional representative to oppose it, please go HERE.

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