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Walgreens study finds patients prefer to fill Rxs at community pharmacies


DEERFIELD, Ill. — Patients prefer to fill their 90-day prescription medications at community pharmacies over mail-order pharmacies when co-pay costs are similar, according to a study conducted by Walgreens.

Published in the April issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, Walgreens' study, "Community Pharmacy and Mail-Order Cost and Utilization for 90-Day Maintenance Medication Prescriptions," analyzed pharmacy claims and eligibility data from employer group clients of a large pharmacy benefit manager between January 2008 and September 2010. Employer groups were selected if they offered 90-day community pharmacy and mail-order dispensing subject to equivalent benefits (e.g., defined as plans in which the mean and median co-payments per claim for community and mail-order pharmacy, by tier, differed by no more than 5%). The study found that patients preferred the community pharmacy channel option by a ratio of 4-to-1. What's more, the study also noted that that there was no significant difference between the employer's cost per prescription for 90-day maintenance medications in either channel.

"We understand that patients seek choice when it comes to how their prescription medications are filled," said Jeffrey Kang, Walgreens SVP pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. "This study confirms that when given the option under a cost-neutral plan, patients prefer filling 90-day prescriptions at community pharmacies over mail-order by a significant margin. While we are aware that some patients have a high satisfaction rate with mail order, the findings also further reinforce that many patients value convenient access and the opportunity to establish a personal relationship with a pharmacist through face-to-face interaction.

"In spite of general industry perceptions to the contrary, this research shows that the cost of 90-day retail is not materially higher than mail order," Kang added. "It also supports the evidence we have seen that by offering a 90-day community pharmacy option along with 90-day mail and 30-day retail programs, employers and plans can maximize their prescription savings by increasing patient choice while improving adherence, outcomes and patient satisfaction in the process."

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