Y2K Drug Stockpiling Prevented

No increase in prescriptions during end of year

Fears that patients would try to stockpile prescriptions at the end of 1999 proved to be unfounded. It looks like Y2K readiness planning paid off.

One of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers, PCS, is taking the credit for the procedures it put in place to prevent its customers from hoarding drugs in preparation for Y2K. PCS tracked data from 50 million cardholders and then examined the prescriptions filled each month during 1998 and 1999. The result of that information showed there was no increase in the number of prescriptions filled per patient for the final months of 1999.

The PCS study also included an analysis of drug use by category. Analysts found no evidence of increased prescription dispensing of any specific type of drug, including those used to treat chronic and potentially life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

PCS analysts used encrypted, non-identifiable patient data from the company's extensive pharmacy claims database and evaluated information from patients who were continuously eligible for pharmacy benefits for the entire year.

The company says it worked closely with its health plan customers last year to ensure that procedures were in place to prevent unnecessary drug hoarding while making sure that patients continued to receive appropriate pharmaceutical care. Most benefit plans limited refill frequency to approximately once per month, preventing patients from obtaining multiple bottles of the same medicine and helps to avoid possible overdose or improper use. Patients who use the mail service were allowed to receive a three-month supply in a single bottle, significantly extending the time between refills.

In addition, an industry-wide education effort helped to increase patients' confidence in their ability to obtain prescriptions without interruption in the new year.

PCS manages and monitors 300 million individual prescriptions each year representing $10 billion in drug expenditures.

(Source: BW Health Wire)

DATE: 1/20/2000

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