Time to Put Patients Ahead of Politics: PBM Mail-Service Pharmacy Vital to Consumer Health During Pandemic

The need for reliable mail-service pharmacies has been widely cited in the recent firestorm over potential modifications to operations at the United States Postal Service, raising concerns that people are not getting their medications delivered on time. While election-year political rancor is inevitable, patients need to know that delays in delivery of their prescriptions are not. Indeed, their mail-service pharmacies are taking all necessary steps for patients to continue to receive their medications on time and avoid disruptions in care.

We know patients are counting on it.

To be sure, the USPS is vital to mail-service pharmacy operations, and we believe America’s post office should be adequately funded and resolve any current delivery problems. Throughout the public health emergency brought on by COVID-19, pharmacy benefit managers’ mail-service pharmacies have continued to be a safe, convenient and reliable way for patients to get their maintenance medications and other essential prescription drugs. That has not changed.

Through July 2020, the IQVIA Institute has found an increase in prescription drugs filled through mail-service pharmacies during the pandemic, as compared to 2019. Most importantly, while it makes for an intriguing headline to imply that many patients may not be receiving their medications on time, the real story is that mail service has helped Americans to access their prescriptions while sheltering at home at a crucial time in our history.

To ensure timely medication delivery for patients, PBM mail-service pharmacies use multiple national mail and shipping carriers. In addition, mail-service pharmacies have always employed sophisticated automation, geographically dispersed mail-service pharmacies, proprietary route determination and sorting processes that help make it an extremely accurate, timely and convenient way to obtain prescription drugs. 

Patients experience numerous benefits when using mail-service pharmacies: They have more affordable alternative drug options and are typically more adherent to their medication regimen. Indeed, research has demonstrated filling prescriptions through mail-service pharmacies and in 90-day supplies, the typical quantity dispensed through mail, can increase adherence to drug regimens, including for individuals living with chronic conditions. In addition, given their significantly higher dispensing accuracy rates, mail-service pharmacies are much safer than retail pharmacies, and offer convenient access to 24/7 confidential counseling and telepharmacy. 

Along with that increased safety and adherence, mail-service pharmacies will save consumers $59.6 billion over 10 years.

I am one of those consumers, and for several years have received a 90-day supply of my statin like clockwork from my PBM pharmacy — or the pharmacies of two different PBMs, in fact, as I moved from one employer plan to another.

For those with chronic conditions, older Americans and patients residing in rural, remote and other underserved communities, home delivery service for prescriptions is crucially important to a healthier, higher-quality life.

Amid the din of election-year politics, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and changes to USPS services that reflect new and evolving conditions, PBM pharmacies will continue to send medications to arrive safely and timely. Our top priority remains enabling everyone to access — as safely, conveniently and cost-effectively as possible — the quality health care they need.

JC Scott is the president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in our coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.

Morning Consult