Pharmacists in panic mode over trend toward mail-order prescriptions

As mail order shows signs of becoming the dominant distribution system for prescription drugs in the United States, independent retail pharmacists are shaking in their boots.

So much so that they are turning to Washington for a bailout — or at least for a sympathetic ear.

As Drug Topics reports:

The fundamental message of the 2009 National Community Pharmacists Association’s Annual Conference on National Legislation & Government Affairs is “get into politics or get out of pharmacy”. Putting these words into action, on May 13 pharmacists attending the NCPA conference will take to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators. Their goal is to make sure lawmakers understand what they do and how they serve patients…

Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) responded to concerns about the common misconception that mail-order prescriptions are less expensive than pharmacies. The speakers promised to continue to support pharmacy interests, including issues connected with pharmacy benefit managers…

The NCPA is not a small organization. Founded in 1898, it represents more than 24,000 pharmacies, more than 68,000 pharmacists and more than 280,000 employees. The nation’s independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises and independent chains dispense nearly half of the nation’s retail prescription medicines.

But this is a fight it simply can’t win.

No matter how many independent pharmacists march on Washington, the fact remains that the traditional business model for dispensing medications is collapsing around them. On the one side, they must try to compete with mega-retailers like Wal-Mart. And on the other side is the even bigger elephant in the room: mail-order pharmacies.

People want the convenience and lower prices that they get from mail-order, whether ordering through their insurance provider or an online pharmacy.

Fighting to retain the old way of doing things is a losing battle. It would be more productive to find a way to participate in the emerging distribution system — and in fact, it’s really their only choice over the long term.

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Comments (1)

Although mail order does a nice job of lowering medication costs; it exacerbates to real issue which is medication compliance. People have a hard time trying to coordinate 30 days worth of medication, mail order multiplies that number by 3. Medication compliance is most effective when the meds are pre-sorted by pharmacists. Check out http://www.dailymed.com.

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