Medications Direct to Your Doorstep- the Next Big Thing?

Over the past few months, I have noticed a prevalence of ads publicizing Viagra's home delivery service. The concept is genius. No more waiting in line in the middle of the grocery store where your next door neighbor could potentially be lurking, inadvertently witnessing you receive your bottle of little blue pills. An avid online shopper myself (I order everything online), I was curious about how Viagra's home delivery service works. Does a similar service exist for other medications? Is the service actually as user-friendly as it sounds?

While I hit the internet for clothing, household, and even food purchases, somehow the opportunity to order my prescription meds online and have them delivered to my front door passed me by. Working in a lower income area, my patients don't bring up medication delivery services. I am, of course, familiar with mail order prescriptions, but the process of getting medications dropped directly on your doorstep is now much sleeker and simpler than I realized.

When I visited Viagra's home delivery site, it was evident that the drug's manufacturer Pfizer and partner in the endeavor, CVS Caremark, had put significant time and effort into launching the home delivery program. The site is well laid out, easy to use, and pretty much anonymous. A prescription is of course required to buy Viagra online. The site however, provides a way to obtain the actual medication free from prying eyes and loud-talking pharmacists. That is so long as the medication isn't packaged in a little blue delivery box, I suppose.

Major pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS now offer free delivery of virtually any medication right to your doorstep provided that you have a prescription. For cost-conscious consumers who realize these big name pharmacies can be costly, Walmart also offers a free home delivery service. The home delivery process is simple. Patients have the healthcare provider e-prescribe or fax a prescription to the pharmacy. If these services aren't offered, patients may have to bring the initial prescription to the pharmacy or mail it in. Once entered into the system, refills are automatically delivered to your home at intervals specified by the prescription.

Certain that there must be some sort of catch to getting medications delivered right to your doorstep, I contacted Walgreens 1-800 number with some tough questions for the retailer. Surprisingly, my call was answered right away. Here are the Walgreens representative's responses to my questions:

Me: Can controlled medications be delivered to my home?

Walgreen's Rep: Yes, there are no restrictions on which types of medications may be delivered. Someone will need to be present to sign for the package regardless of the type of medication. 

Me: OK, what about refrigerated medications?

Walgreen's Rep: Yes, these can be delivered as well. They are packaged appropriately so they are kept cool during transport. 

Me: Does insurance cover delivered medications in the same way it does if I pick them up at the pharmacy?

Walgreen's Rep: Not always. You will need to check your insurance carrier to be sure this service is covered by your plan. 

One major caveat to the convenience of medication home delivery is that an individual must be present to sign for the package. If you are interested in medication home delivery for yourself or your patients, having meds sent to your office address makes it more likely you wil be present to connect with the FedEx driver in person. The second drawback of drug delivery services is, of course, spotty insurance coverage. While delivery is marketed as free (expedited shipping is available for a surcharge), insurance plans may not cover this convenient new trend. 

As one who is always looking for a way around errand-running, I plan to try medication delivery services for future prescriptions. Spending a few extra bucks to have Tamiflu expedited straight to my doorstep the next time body-aches and fever wrack my body or avoiding standing in line during a monthly trip to the pharmacy to pick up a regularly prescribed medication is definitely worth a try.

Do you or your patients use home medication delivery? How was your experience?

 

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