Virginia moves to limit mail-order specialty pharmacies

Mail-order specialty pharmacies are growing in popularity, but Virginia regulators are seeking more control over deliveries from these businesses.

Mail-order specialty pharmacies are growing in popularity, but Virginia regulators are seeking more control over deliveries from these businesses. Recently, Virginia's Board of Pharmacy gave initial approval to several changes, including requiring delivering pharmacies to inform hospitals and doctors' offices of the expected arrival time and storage instructions for medicines, banning the delivery of products requiring special storage directly to the patient's home, and mandating that the specialty pharmacy provide a return procedure for items that are not delivered. Delivering the medicine from the specialty pharmacy to either a practitioner's office or a patient's home can save prescribers costs associated with purchasing and stocking medicine, according to a study published by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). However, although the model has some benefits, NABP and other health care providers have expressed concern about the potential dangers for patients, potential waste, and the unclear responsibility when something goes wrong with a delivery. "For the most part, this practice is being driven solely for the financial benefit of insurance vendors, not for the benefit (or safety) of the patient or health care provider," said Cynthia Williams of Newport News-based Riverside Health System. The proposed regulations will be subject to a 60-day comment period before the Board of Pharmacy holds an official vote, which would send them to Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia for final approval.