A pharmacy in your mailbox

If you're tired of waiting in long lines at the pharmacy to drop off or pick up your prescriptions, find yourself forgetting to refill your meds, or worry about your conversations with the pharmacist being overhead by other customers in the store, there's a safe, convenient, money-saving alternative available to you right now.

Millions of Americans, many of them your neighbors, are enjoying having a "pharmacy in their mailbox" by using mail order pharmacy services. With mail service, you don't have to go to the pharmacy, the pharmacy comes to you.

Today, nearly 10 percent of all prescriptions in the U.S. are sent through the mail. The reasons people are using mail order are easy to understand:

* Convenience. After sending in your prescription just once, your medication is sent to you directly and can be automatically refilled. In fact, most mail order services send a three-month supply of the medication so you don't have to worry about receiving your medication every month. And, with automatic refill programs, the pharmacy reminds you when a refill is due.

* Cost savings. Most mail service prescriptions are for generic drugs, which work as well as the brand name products, but often cost substantially less. Also, because mail service facilities do not have the same overhead costs as a retail pharmacy, their drug prices are much lower and those savings get passed on to you. While health plan benefits vary, you can typically get a 90-day supply of prescription drugs for the same cost as a 60-day supply at retail - a 30 percent savings.

* Security and privacy. Mail service prescriptions are sent in non-identifiable tamper evident and water resistant packaging. The patient information shared with the mail order pharmacy remains confidential at all times and the mailing packages are plainly labeled and do not identify what is inside or that it was sent from a pharmacy.

* Quality. If you think that a mail service pharmacy is a dank warehouse with unskilled workers, think again. Today's mail service facilities feature state-of-the-art technologies, highly trained clinical pharmacists, and quality control measures not available at your local pharmacy. For example, Prescription Solutions, one of the country's leading mail order pharmacies, has two large fulfillment facilities in Overland Park, Kan. and Carlsbad, Calif. The company invested $100 million in its Kansas facility, nearly half of which was devoted to state-of-the-art automation equipment that pays off in higher quality and accuracy.

* Lots of valuable "extras." Many people who use mail service pharmacies have chronic or progressive conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or rheumatoid arthritis, that require them to take medication on a continuous basis. Living with a chronic disease can be challenging and confusing, which is why mail service pharmacies such as Prescription Solutions offer free education and counseling to their members with such conditions. These free services are designed to help you stay healthier by sticking with the treatment prescribed by your doctor. Also available are mobile-friendly versions of websites that allow on-the-go access to prescription information and text messages sent to remind you when to take your medications or get them refilled.

"Mail service is a great option if you are looking for ways to lower your prescription drug costs and save time," says Randell J. Correia, head of Mail Service for Prescription Solutions. "With mail service, you don't have to drive to a drug store each time you need to fill a prescription, ordering is easy and the medications arrive at your doorstep. You also get the added feature of having 24/7 access to pharmacists and the highest level of accuracy and safety."

While receiving prescriptions by mail may not be right for every person or every situation, more people are recognizing it as a convenient, affordable and safe option. So next time you open your mailbox, think about how nice it would be to have your prescription right there waiting for you.