Mail-order pharmacy has generally been viewed with a good deal of suspicion by traditional pharmacy. Whether it has stemmed from concern over the level of care or a fear by traditional retail pharmacists of losing business, that suspicion has added fuel to the competitive fire between the two. But the head of one leading mail-order company told Drug Topics that not only can the the two coexist, but they can also complement each other's efforts.
"There is this sort of war between retail and mail. Independents, especially, really dislike the whole issue of mail order," acknowledged Chris Robbins, CEO of VitaRx, a New Orleans-based mail-order pharmacy. Robbins claimed, however, that the mail-order industry is not out to eclipse community pharmacy. "We don't want to compete with retail, from a practical standpoint, for the acute medications. It just doesn't work," he said. "If someone needs amoxicillin for a kid's earache, you're not going to wait and mail it in."
Maintenance medications, he said, are another matter. Robbins contended that, in addition to the cost-savings normally associated with mail order (for both the patient and the managed care organization), mail order offers certain clinical advantages that also fit into managed care's overall objective. While the realities of retail require community pharmacists to divide their attention between both sides of the counter, mail-order pharmacists have more time to concentrate on pharmacy by itself. That can mean more opportunity for outcomes tracking and fuller participation in disease management as well as greater emphasis on evaluating prescriptions and, when necessary, clinical intervention, according to Robbins. …