The use of mail order pharmacies is increasing as it is a convenient way for people to receive their medications. Medications are being shipped from state to state under varying temperature conditions. The United States Pharmacopeia chapter 1079 suggests practices that pharmacies should follow when mailing medications to help prevent patients from receiving adulterated medications. However, it is unknown how many of these suggested practices are actually being implemented. This study aimed to evaluate the use of these suggested practices across mail order pharmacies in the US. The results of these study will help to support change in the current regulations of mail order pharmacies to increase patient safety as well as increase equality in the rules followed by retail pharmacies as well mail order pharmacies in regards to storage of medications.
For this evaluative study, a directory of 490 mail order pharmacies was obtained and each pharmacy was called and asked if they would be willing to take a survey about the current practices of their mail order pharmacy. A survey of 32 questions was then sent out to the mail order pharmacies in the US. The questions in the survey asked how often different procedures were completed at the pharmacy such as, how often are continuous temperature trackers used when mailing medications. Qualtrics was used to make the survey and provided the link to send the anonymous survey to these mail order pharmacies. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyze the data to help support the change in regulation of these pharmacies.
Of the 490 mail order pharmacy numbers called, there were seven participants that answered the survey questions. All seven of the participants worked at a mail order pharmacy. Five responses were from a pharmacy manager and two were from pharmacists. The cities and states varied. Three out of the seven responses indicated that all dosage forms are packaged and shipped the same way. The other responses included that liquids, topicals, inhalants, injections, and eyedrops had special packaging procedures. Packaging was tested to ensure that product quality is maintained and there is no damage including environmental or physical damage at four of the seven pharmacies. One pharmacy reported that testing is not done, and two participants were unsure if there was testing completed. Three people indicated that the tests were done yearly and two indicated that these tests are document. Overall, it was shown that there are major inconsistencies between just seven pharmacies. Further research needs to be done to determine if these inconsistencies vary among a great number of pharmacies as well.