Patients' Pharmacy Choice, Mail Order Headaches Voiced in New NCPA Video



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"Mail Order Madness" Debuts at www.WhoRunsMyDrugPlan.com

Alexandria, Va. - Sept. 12, 2012 Some common patient complaints regarding mail order pharmacies and their captive consumers' lack of choice to switch to another pharmacy if they encounter poor service are highlighted in a new video released today by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

Mail Order MadnessThe short feature entitled "Mail Order Madness" touches on several concerns that patients have voiced to pharmacists and elsewhere regarding mail order pharmacy: unsatisfactory customer service; wasteful "auto-shipping" of medication even when a prescription has changed or is no longer needed; and the wait for prescriptions to be processed and mailed (or sometimes lost in the mail or misdelivered). The video is available for viewing at www.whorunsmydrugplan.com—a website that educates health plan sponsors and patients about how the cost and value of their prescription benefit can be negatively impacted by middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which often also own mail order pharmacies.

"The point of this video is simple: Patients need and deserve the ability to choose a pharmacy in their health plan that best meets their needs and those of their family for quality, convenience and cost-effective care," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "Surveys indicate that the vast majority of patients prefer to use a local pharmacy for a face-to-face health care experience. The choice of going to your local pharmacy or using mail order pharmacy is a decision that should be left to patients because mail order is not for everyone. Unfortunately mandatory mail order plan designs limit patients to one pharmacy. Unlike a community pharmacy where patients can 'vote with their feet', mail order's captive customers have no ability to go anywhere else."

Several surveys reflect the issues highlighted in "Mail Order Madness":

  • By a four to one ratio, patients prefer using a community pharmacy over mail for 90-day supplies of their regular medications, according to a study published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy.
  • Mail order customers' satisfaction rates were the lowest of any pharmacy provider, according to a survey by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (55 percent of mail customers report to be "very satisfied" vs. 76 percent of independent pharmacy customers). These patients were also the least likely to recommend their mail order provider, compared to other pharmacy patients.
  • A J.D. Power and Associates official, speaking about the company's annual pharmacy patient satisfaction survey, told Drug Topics magazine that patients required to use mail order "aren't loyal customers. They're hostages, and they don't like it."

"Patients, pharmacists and anyone else concerned about these issues should share this video with friends, elected officials and policymakers, employers and other health plan sponsors," Hoey added. "There often are better options available to control health costs while protecting patient choice. For example, ensuring a plan design that allows access to community pharmacists, who can help patients better adhere to the medication regimen their doctor prescribed. In addition, community pharmacists help maximize the appropriate use of cost-saving generic drugs, which is demonstrated by their dispensing about 20 percent more often than mail order pharmacies, which favor brand name drugs."

The Third Wheel"Mail Order Madness" follows an earlier video entitled "The Third Wheel", which was released July 11, 2012 in conjunction with the launch of the www.whorunsmydrugplan.com website.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

Ask Your Family Pharmacist TM