Automatic home-delivery for chronic medicines: savings and convenience

Making it more difficult to use automatic home refill for chronic medications may be good for the drugstore lobby, but it’s bad for the employers and government health programs that foot the bill – and for the consumers who enjoy and rely on the convenience of receiving their medications through the mail. 

Compared to brick-and-mortar drugstores, home delivery offers deeper discounts and reduced copays. A study by Visante found that greater use of mail-service pharmacies by employers, Medicare, unions and government employee plans can save $46.6 billion over the next 10 years.

For example, patients with mail-service pharmacy controlled cholesterol better than those who obtained statins from their local pharmacy, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In addition, Medicare Part D beneficiaries who receive their diabetes medications through home delivery achieve greater adherence than those using retail pharmacies.

Earlier this year, 88 members of Congress touted the value of mail-service pharmacies in a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General:

“Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, VA and other beneficiaries currently rely on low cost delivery of prescription drugs to their doorstep. Whether it is a homebound senior that cannot walk or drive to the pharmacy, or a Veteran who lives in a rural area with limited access to the prescription drugs they need, all of these home delivery beneficiaries cannot afford to go without their medications for days. Nor should they have to obtain their medications through more costly delivery methods.”

Merritt is president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents pharmacy benefit managers, which organizations use the mail-order pharmacy.