Recent announcements from CVS, Amazon, could alter medication home delivery

Local pharmacies can still have a competitive edge, however

Predicting the future of medication home delivery is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: the landscape is changing. In back-to-back announcements this summer, CVS launched a nationwide prescription home delivery service with the U. S. Postal Service (USPS), and Amazon acquired the online pharmacy startup PillPack.

The new CVS partnership with USPS allows eligible prescription orders to be delivered for same- or next-day delivery with the option to add health and household products carried at CVS Pharmacy. Amazon has provided this type of service digitally to customers for some time—and will now enter the pharmacy business with the acquisition of PillPack.

“In adding multimedication packaging services, local pharmacies that offer home delivery can have a competitive edge over Amazon PillPack by preserving the local pharmacist–patient connection,” said Rebecca Chater, RPh, MPH, FAPhA, director of clinical health care strategy at Omnicell.

Rather than worry about their place amidst this potential change, Chater believes pharmacists should take this opportunity to add the tools they need to facilitate their ability to improve patient outcomes.

“The local pharmacist connection builds trust, gives peace of mind, and provides patients the level of care needed to resolve complex medication issues,” said Chater.

“Medication delivery has value as a convenience but is not a panacea—especially for the nearly 40 million Americans who receive five or more medications a day,” Chater added. Complex medication regimens present challenges, including nonadherence, that require a multifaceted approach to resolution by the pharmacist.

Other large pharmacy chains could be entering the fray as well. In a statement to Pharmacy Today, a Walgreens spokesperson said the chain is currently piloting same-day prescription and select OTC product delivery through the Walgreens Plus program in the Gainsville, FL, market as well as same- and next-day prescription delivery in select markets.

The big question for CVS and others who want to roll out home delivery for patients and make it widely available is how to get around the restrictions PBMs and insurance plans place on mail delivery.

CVS Caremark PBM plan members have been able to receive eligible prescription delivery through mail service offerings. Certain CVS Caremark plan members will now have enhanced delivery options through the USPS partnership with CVS.

A CVS spokesperson said its prescription delivery service is available to eligible customers whose health insurance plans allow for CVS’s delivery model.

For the full article, please visit www.pharmacytoday.org for the October 2018 issue of Pharmacy Today.