Study Raises Mail Order Pharmacy Patient Adherence, Dispensing Questions

Date Released: Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Press release by NCPA on October 27,2015 regarding results of funded grant.

Study Raises Mail Order Pharmacy Patient Adherence, Dispensing Questions

by NCPA | Oct 27, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (October 27, 2015) -  Recent research funded by a grant from the Community Pharmacy Foundation (CPF) offers further evidence of medication waste resulting from prescriptions filled by mail order pharmacies and raises questions on supposed cost savings. 

The study examined more than 6,500 prescriptions consumers returned for disposal at pharmacies participating in the National Community Pharmacists Association's (NCPA) Dispose My Meds™ program between June 2012 and June 2013. It found that those originating through mail order were more likely to have in excess of 80% of the medication remaining when compared to retail pharmacies (58% of mail order disposals compared to 37% for retail). Furthermore, mail order disposals were also more likely costly brand medications when compared to retail. 

"Mail order is not for everyone." said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, "Medications don't work in patients who don't take them and this study raises serious questions of patient adherence when they receive prescriptions through the mail."

Hoey continued, "This study is just one more exhibit in the mounting evidence that the savings created by mail order pharmacies are illusory. The accessibility of face-to-face interactions with a community pharmacist helps patients to better adhere to their medication regimens, which in turn reduces waste. Plan sponsors ought to keep these things in mind when considering plan designs for their beneficiaries and consider whether mail order truly delivers."

The results from this study reinforce examples of mail order waste provided by community pharmacists nationwide and featured in NCPA's "Waste Not, Want Not" presentation. In addition to the waste created, patients have expressed dissatisfaction with mail order pharmacies, leading the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to release documentation of beneficiary complaints with mail order pharmacy in December of 2013. 


The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent an $81.4 billion health care marketplace and employ more than 314,000 individuals on a full or part-time basis. To learn more, go to, visit, or follow NCPA on Twitter @Commpharmacy.