Mail-order waste: $30,000 of unused medications turned in to pharmacy

March 27, 2012

A New York community pharmacist highlighted the problem of mail-order waste after a man turned in $30,000 worth of medications to the pharmacy.

A New York community pharmacist highlighted the problem of mail-order waste after a man turned in $30,000 worth of medications to the pharmacy.

At pharmacist John McDonald’s store, Marra’s Pharmacy, in Cohoes, New York, the son of a county employee who had passed away brought in a collection of pills, insulin, insulin strips, and around 50 boxes of nasal spray, as part of the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) Dispose My Meds program.

The story was featured in a news report by CBS' Albany affiliate, Channel 6.

 “Situations like this just drive up the costs for all of us. You have to strike the right balance of making sure that your employees get affordable healthcare….[and] managing the benefit properly,” McDonald said in the television report.

The case illustrates that it is essential for health plan sponsors to preserve patients’ freedom to choose a pharmacy provider, according to Lonny Wilson, DPh, NCPA president and executive director and CEO of Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma.

“The wasteful healthcare spending identified by John McDonald and CBS 6 may be a shocking and extreme case, but is indicative of a problem that is all too common and real,” Wilson said in a news release.

“The face-to-face, patient-pharmacist interaction in a community pharmacy improves health outcomes and prevents the waste identified in the news report, that is associated with ‘auto-shipping’ mail-order programs,” he added.

Community pharmacists also can help patients discard their unused or expired medication in an environmentally-responsible way through the Dispose My Meds program, Wilson noted.