Mail-Service Pharmacies See Market Share Increase

November 25, 2002 ( - Mail-service pharmacies now account for 15.7% of all retail pharmaceutical sales and receive strong marks for convenience and reduced drug prices, according to a Reuters report.

Mail-service pharmacies represent a growing source of revenue for Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM), who have been pushing these services as a way for clients to save money and add convenience to their prescription fillings.  

Mail-service pharmacies represent one of the fastest growing ways to get prescription drugs, according to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents the PBM industry. The association cited data from IMS Health showing 22% year-over-year growth in mail-service pharmacy sales for the period ended June 2002.

A survey by the Pharmacy Benefit Managers Institute (PBMI), an independent organization that conducts research for the PBM industry, showed 50% of those surveyed report using mail-service pharmacies because their benefit provider requires them to do so.

The results were based on responses from 13,000 mail-service pharmacy users nationwide.  

However, participants are satisfied with the service:

  • 95% pay less through the mail than they would at a pharmacy
  • 88% are pleased with the overall performance of their mail-service pharmacy, with 70% report being very satisfied.
  • 82% felt it was more convenient than a retail pharmacy.

The savings can be significant.   The  March 2002 PLANSPONSOR Magazine  reported that patients in some cases make only one co-payment for a 90-day supply of chronic meds, as opposed to three co-payments for three 30-day supplies.

However, the survey reports lower marks in satisfaction with the timeliness of deliveries (65%) and the ease of reaching a pharmacist (62%).