Mail Order vs Independent

Community pharmacies preferred over mail order at a rate of 4:1, study shows
Apr 17, 2012
By: From staff reports
Drug Topics Community Pharmacists’ Report

When co-pays are similar, patients prefer community pharmacies versus mail order to fill their prescriptions by a ratio of 4 to 1, according to a new study.

Published in the April 2012 issue of The Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, the study was conducted by Walgreens. Nikhil Khandelwai, PhD, and fellow researchers performed a retrospective investigation using pharmacy claims and eligibility data from employer group clients of a large pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) between January 2008 and September 2010. They limited the sample to employer groups that offered equivalent benefits for community pharmacy and mail order. All employer groups in the sample offered 90-day community pharmacy and mail-order dispensing, and received benefits management services from the PBM.

Community pharmacies represented 80.8% of 90-day market basket claims and 77.2% of total allowed charges. In addition, the predicted mean allowed charges per claim for community and mail-order pharmacies did not differ significantly ($49.03 versus $50.04, respectively). “This study confirms that, given the option under a cost-neutral plan, patients prefer filling 90-day prescriptions at community pharmacies over mail order by a significant margin,” said Jeffrey Kang, MD, Walgreens senior vice president of health and wellness services and solutions.

While Walgreens is aware that some patients have a higher satisfaction rate with mail order, according to Kang, the findings reinforce that “many patients value convenient access and the opportunity to establish a personal relationship with a pharmacist through face-to-face interaction.”

The study also supports previous evidence showing that the cost of a 90-day retail program is not materially higher than mail order, Kang said.


  1. Stephen says:

    Spot on Brian. Community pharmacies, especially independent pharmacies like yours, are the foundation of the pharmacy profession. Mail order just like retail pharmacies are trying to make the services pharmacist provide a commodity that can be swapped but personal services that independent pharmacies offer are superior.

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