Mail Order Waste

 $11,411.71, $4,330.42, $1,126.26 – These are figures we have seen in our own pharmacy of mail order waste due to inefficiencies and mail order auto fill. In some of these instances, the patient did not want mail order, but was forced into it by their insurance company or plan sponsor. Other times, the patient had passed and accumulated all these medications due to auto refill and poor adherence. The family had no choice but to bring it to a proper place to be disposed of.

Mandatory mail order drug plans create 3.3 times more waste than prescription drug plans that allow patients the freedom to purchase their prescription drugs at a community pharmacy. (Halberg, Smith, & Sedlacek, October 2000)

You may be wondering just how this could happen. One of the ways is as mentioned before – auto refill. You sign up for auto refill and even if you want the medications to stop coming, often they don’t! Before you know it, you are on a new drug or strength and try to end the previous order. But, the drugs keep coming and then you have a stock pile of drugs you, nor anyone else, can use. The only choice is to destroy them.

We have had cases and heard stories of prescriptions being filled through mail order after a patient has requested them to stop and even after the patient has passed on.

Auto refill is not the only cause of mail order waste. Filling a 90 day supply when the regimen may be changed and poor adherence to the treatment plan due to the distance between patient and pharmacist also contribute to the problem of mail order waste.

You may think, well I don’t use mail order, or have regular prescriptions, so this isn’t my problem. But, this applies to government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and those are sponsored by you and your tax dollars. This problem should be of concern to all of us. Mail order is not all bad, but there has to be measures taken to reduce waste.


$11,000 in wasted medications


$4,000 of wasted medications