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New Government Data: Mail-Service Pharmacies Grow, But Public Programs Lag Behind

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --- New, independent government data from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) suggests that while mail-service pharmacies serve a disproportionate share of seniors and individuals with chronic conditions, public programs are not taking full advantage of this increasingly popular and proven cost-saving pharmacy option, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today. At a time when policymakers are seeking public program savings, PCMA believes strongly that the mail-service pharmacy option could be an important tool to achieving greater savings without sacrificing access to needed medications.

"The more consumers know about the savings and convenience of the mail-service pharmacy option, the more they like it. Since public programs lag behind in this area, they should explore new ways to promote this important option," said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.

The new mail-service pharmacy data is contained in a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), entitled Comparing Population Characteristics of Persons Purchasing Prescribed Drugs from Mail Order Pharmacies with Persons Purchasing Prescribed Drugs from Other Outlets, 2005. Among the key findings suggested by the new data:

-- The proportion of individuals relying on a mail-service pharmacy jumped by 50 percent from 2000 to 2005, from 8.8 to 13.2 percent. All other drug-delivery models declined during this time period;

-- Seniors are far more likely to use mail-order pharmacies than the under 65 population;

-- Individuals with at least one chronic condition are far more likely to use mail-service pharmacies than other pharmacy options; and

-- Those individuals relying only on public programs for health coverage lag far behind using mail order, compared to drugstores and other options like clinics and hospitals, suggesting that there is an opportunity for public programs to increase reliance on mail-order pharmacies.

According to a September 2006 report commissioned by PCMA and conducted by the Lewin Group, mail-service pharmacies are projected to reduce costs to consumers and payors by $85 billion in Medicare and the commercial marketplace during the time period 2007 to 2016. If mail-service pharmacies were used to their full potential in Medicare and the commercial marketplace, the ten-year cost savings could double - to $167 billion.

PCMA is the national association representing America's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which administer prescription drug plans for more than 210 million Americans with health coverage provided through Fortune 500 employers, health insurance plans, labor unions, and Medicare Part D.

Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) Report: pdf

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
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