NCPA Urges Investigation of Mail Order Prescription Plans After USPS Delays

August 28, 2020

In the letter, NCPA stated that investigations should probe problems associated with mail order prescription plans.

Soon after the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into potential US Postal Service (USPS) delivery delays for mail order medications, NCPA said in a letter that the committee should broaden its investigation to probe long-term problems with mail order prescription plans.1

“Policymakers should investigate the cost and safety of mail order prescriptions as well as the impacts of any delivery delays on drug safety and efficacy,” said Karry La Violette, NCPA senior vice president of government affairs, in a news release.2 “We’re confident they will find that in many cases there are better, more reliable options—namely, patients’ neighborhood pharmacies—to help improve outcomes, protect patient choice, and control costs.”

Problems with forced or incentivized mail order plans have been taking place for some time and too many patients have found themselves scrambling, even before added difficulties brought by the coronavirus pandemic, according to La Violette.1

“NCPA questions the integrity of a drug distribution system that relies exclusively on the mail and in which drugs are dispensed in excessive volume, over long distances, often exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity, delayed, and otherwise compromised.,” La Violette said in the letter.1

APhA also recently said in a news release that it is “deeply concerned” about anecdotal reports of disruptions in the US Postal Service delivery of medications to patients—including veterans.3

“Where disruptions exist, they must be addressed immediately. To achieve the best drug therapy outcomes, medications must be taken according to the prescribed schedule. That is why it is vital that patients have the right to choose where they obtain their medications, and why we oppose benefit plans and pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) that require patients to participate in mandatory mail order for medications,” APhA said.3

“Mail order in itself is not a bad thing, but 3 PBMs own specialty pharmacies and many pharmacies like CVS, and they make it mandatory,” APhA CEO and Executive Vice President Scott Knoer, PharmD, FASHP, told Drug Topics®.

“We have heard anecdotal problems of delays and, if mail order times are getting longer, it is going to be a problem. A lot of these specialty drugs need to be refrigerated,” Knoer added.

The mail delivery problems are just one of the many problems with mail order script plans, NCPA B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, told Drug Topics®.

“We have heard for decades baseline problems with mail order. Mail order pharmacy is the worst way for patients to get their prescription medications,” he said.

References:

1. NCPA letter to Energy & Commerce Committee Leaders. NCPA; August 27, 2020. Accessed August 28, 2020. https://ncpa.org/sites/default/files/2020-08/NCPAtoE%26C-MailOrder-8.27.20.pdf

2. NCPA to E&C leaders: Examine mail order prescription concerns during USPS investigation. News release. NCPA; August 27, 2020. Accessed August 28, 2020. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2020/08/27/ncpa-ec-leaders-examine-mail-order-prescription-concerns-during

3. Dangers of mandatory mail order shine light on the need for patient pharmacy choice and protecting the pharmacist-patient relationship. News release. APhA; August 18. 2020. Accessed August 28, 2020. https://www.pharmacist.com/press-release/dangers-mandatory-mail-order-shine-light-need-patient-pharmacy-choice-and-protecting