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Plan to cut Saturday postal service draws heat from mail-order pharmacy

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. The much-discussed plan by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday delivery has drawn sharp opposition from managed care and mail-order pharmacy operators, Bloomberg news service reported.

Among those leading the opposition are two pharmacy benefit management and mail-order giants, CVS Caremark and Medco Health Solutions, according to a Bloomberg report today. Both companies said the plan to cut postal deliveries to weekdays only would boost their operating costs as they shift Saturday shipments to UPS, FedEx or other alternative carriers, and delay the movement of needed medicines to patients.

Together, CVS Caremark and Medco accounted for more than 150 million prescription drug shipments in 2009, according to the news service. They’ve joined a broad-based campaign by online retailers and small-newspaper publishers to stop the Postal Service from scrapping Saturday service, which the government said will annually save it roughly $3 billion.

Speaking at a Postal Regulatory Commission hearing on behalf of those opposed to the move was Ken Czarnecki, CVS' SVP mail pharmacy operations, according to the report. Czarnecki testified that weekday-only postal service would hamper efforts to get medications to patients on time and create difficulties for many Americans.

The postal service has been making Saturday deliveries since 1863, according to Bloomberg. But the agency has been stung hard by high operating costs and the ongoing shift away from mail and toward online communications, and postmaster general John Potter has projected the service an operating deficit of $7 billion this year alone if changes aren’t made.

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