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Patients to PBMs: Give us choices, not mandatory mail!

It's no secret that managed care has steered millions of Americans into ordering their maintenance medications by mail. But pharmacy benefit managers should take note: Most patients don't like the arrangement.

That much was clear from the results of an exclusive survey of nearly 800 patients conducted by AccentHealth and Drug Store News in late July and early August. Of the 90% of those patients who expressed a preference for a particular pharmacy channel as their chief source for prescription medicines, only 2% named a mail-order provider as their preferred pharmacy. You read that right: When given a choice, just 1-out-of-every-50 patients would rather get their scripts by mail.

That means the vast majority of survey respondents with a preference for one pharmacy over another said they'd rather have their prescriptions filled personally by their local retail pharmacist. Chain drug stores were the clear favorite, with 53% expressing a preference for that type of pharmacy outlet, but mass merchants, supermarkets, independent pharmacies and club stores also easily outranked the mail-order option.

The poll was conducted for Patient Views, a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that will be appear in every edition of DSN magazine and the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M.

DSN editor-in-chief Rob Eder called the findings "a strong indication that pharmacy retailers need to pump more investment into pharmacy customer engagement and efforts to transform the drug store from just a dispensary of prescriptions to a destination for a broader array of health services."

If you're a practicing pharmacist, you've probably encountered patients who expressed their views, pro or con, about the mail option. You can share those views by clicking on the link below. As always, I'd welcome your input.

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