Washington, DC September 9, 2020 – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Aging and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees, and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee and HELP Committee member released new findings from their investigation into USPS’s delayed delivery of mail-order medications following operational changes to the Postal Service by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. All four of the largest mail-order pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that rely heavily on USPS for deliveries revealed that they were experiencing significant delays in the delivery of mail-order prescription drugs in the summer of 2020, with an increase in average delivery times ranging from 18-32%. This means that prescription deliveries that typically took 2-3 days were instead taking closer to 3-4 days. Some delays were much longer, with one mail-order pharmacy reporting “a marked increase in July in the number of patients experiencing shipment delays of seven days or more.” The senators’ investigation also found that the delays in USPS service are imposing new costs and burdens on health care providers, which could increase costs to the federal government, consumers, and taxpayers.
The senators sent their findings to the Postal Service Board of Governors, requesting that they act swiftly to reverse these lapses in services.”The findings of our investigation reveal that your failure to fix the service delays caused by Postmaster General DeJoy represent an ongoing public health threat and a dereliction of your responsibility to the American public,”the senators wrote in their letter.
“We know Louis DeJoy is sabotaging the Postal Service – and our investigation reveals his scheming has slowed the delivery of mail-order prescription drugs, threatening health risks for millions of Americans during a pandemic,” said Senator Warren. “Our report is more evidence that Louis DeJoy’s tenure has been a failure. He needs to resign and if he won’t, the Board of Governors must remove him.”
“The steps that this Administration and Postmaster General DeJoy have taken to undermine the Postal Service have jeopardized the health and well-being of millions of Americans who rely on timely delivery of their prescriptions via the Postal Service,” said Senator Casey. “This report shows what we have feared all along – that Postmaster DeJoy’s efforts are having real, potentially life threatening, consequences for people that depend on the Postal Service. The Postal Service Board of Governors must hold the Postmaster General accountable for this sabotage and Congress must provide emergency USPS funding.”
The senators’ new and previously unreleased findings show that, although Postmaster General DeJoy testified that his changes to mail service “should not have impacted anybody,” there have been significant delays in USPS deliveries of mail-order prescription drugs in recent months, potentially posing serious health risks to millions of Americans and increasing costs for consumers and taxpayers.
Specific findings include:
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- Millions of patients rely on timely USPS delivery for their medications, and demand is increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, over 170 million prescriptions were filled by mail in the United States, and “through July 2020…(there has been) a 20 percent increase in prescription drugs filled through mail-service pharmacies during the pandemic.”
- There have been significant and increasing delays in the delivery of mail-order prescription drugs in the summer of 2020. All of the mail-order pharmacies heavily reliant on USPS for delivery of mail-order drugs reported an increase in average delivery times, ranging from 18-32% – meaning that deliveries that took about 2-3 days in 2019 were taking about 3-4 days in 2020. Some delays appear to be even longer. One company reported that “we saw a marked increase in July in the number of patients experiencing shipment delays of seven days or more,” and another reported that “the number of orders taking over five days to deliver has risen dramatically since the onset of the pandemic.” A representative of a pharmacy industry organization informed Senators Warren and Casey that one of its members had observed delays in delivery times of 49% for USPS prescription delivery. Only one of the respondents reported that they were “not experiencing any unusual delays in deliveries” – but this company reported that they were more reliant on private-sector carriers than on USPS.
- Delays pose potentially serious health risks for those requiring prescription medication. One company reported that “for the nearly half of adults in the United States with a chronic condition, timely delivery of prescription medication can have a direct impact on their health outcomes.” Another indicated that seniors were at particular risk, noting that, “(i)f the USPS experiences delays in delivering these prescriptions, our members, who are primarily Medicare beneficiaries, may have an insufficient supply of medication which could result in adverse clinical outcomes if not addressed quickly.”
- Delays in USPS service are imposing new costs and burdens on health care providers, which could increase costs to the federal government, consumers, and taxpayers. Delays in mail service are increasing costs and imposing new burdens on mail-order pharmacy companies. One reported a “35% increase in the number of reshipments resulting from USPS service delays” and that “(i)n July alone, we experienced an 80% increase resulting in approximately $700,000 in additional costs.” These costs, if they continue, may lead to increases in costs for consumers and increases in federal spending on prescription drugs.