How Can I Get Prescriptions Delivered?
In the past, the only way to get your medication from a pharmacy was by visiting in person, waiting in line, and taking it home yourself.
Now, with mail order and on-demand pharmacies, you can have prescriptions delivered right to your front door, which can offer some serious benefits during this pandemic.
But which option for delivery is best for you?
In this article, we will take a look at the three different options for getting medications delivered comparing the process, price, and restrictions that each presents.
Traditional Retail Pharmacies
Traditional retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are still the popular choice for most pharmacy goers.
And over the past year, these pharmacies have begun offering delivery for their customers.
How does prescription delivery from the pharmacy work?
The process is fairly straightforward.
Once your doctor sends your prescription to the pharmacy, they will process it and call you when it is ready to be picked up.
If you want delivery instead, you will have to tell them over the phone or through an app at which point they will use a 3rd party to carry out the delivery.
How much does it cost to have my pharmacy deliver prescriptions?
The cost of delivery from a traditional pharmacy, if they offer it, is usually between $4.99 – $7.99 and on average arrives in 1-4 days.
Most will have an option for same-day delivery but that cost can run as high as $20 in some cases!
The reason for the steep price of traditional pharmacies is they really don’t want to offer delivery since their business depends on driving customers into their physical storefronts so they can sell other convenience type products.
Delivery runs counter to that and as a result, to disincentivize delivery and make up for lost revenue, they charge a fee. Additionally, these pharmacies use third parties to carry out delivery, so charging a fee helps pay for that cost as well.
What are the restrictions?
Traditional retail pharmacies will not deliver controlled (adderall, hydrocodone, etc.) or refrigerated (insulin, etc.) medications.
Mail-order pharmacies have been around for almost 50 years but recently started gaining popularity. Less than 5% of prescriptions are filled through mail order pharmacies, the largest of which are Express Scripts and OptumRx.
Amazon has also recently entered the mail-order space through its acquisition of PillPack.
How does mail order prescription delivery work?
Getting your prescriptions delivered through mail-order can be a bit difficult at first, but once you are signed up it is easy.
To sign up, mail-order pharmacies typically require you to go online and create an account. Depending on your health insurance, certain mail-order pharmacies may be preferred or restricted.
Once you are signed up and approved, you just tell your doctor to send all future prescriptions to that pharmacy.
How much does it cost to use a mail-order pharmacy?
The cost to use a mail-order pharmacy is free and in some cases may offer certain pricing benefits on prescriptions.
The main drawback is the time it takes for your prescriptions to arrive.
In fact, even at Amazon PillPack the first delivery may take up to 2 weeks or longer!
This is fine for some medications but not so practical for others.
What are the restrictions?
Most mail order pharmacies will not deliver controlled (adderall, hydrocodone, etc.) or refrigerated (insulin, etc.) medications.
Some do offer delivery of these medications but typically require an additional fee.
On-demand pharmacies are the most recent of the three medication delivery options.
Built specifically for delivery, these pharmacies will deliver your medications just a couple hours after receiving them from your doctor.
Unlike Uber, DoorDash, and other similar on-demand companies, these pharmacies are more than just middle-men. They are fully licensed, have multiple pharmacists on staff, and have physical local locations for the occasional walk in.
The most well-known on-demand pharmacies are Alto Pharmacy, NowRx Pharmacy, Capsule, and Medly.
How does prescription delivery from an on-demand pharmacy work?
The process to use an on-demand pharmacy is extremely simple.
Just like a traditional pharmacy, you just tell your doctor to send your prescription to the pharmacy (e.g. Send it to NowRx).
The pharmacy then reaches out to set up delivery and collect your copay before delivering the medication in a couple hours.
How much does it cost to use an on-demand pharmacy?
There is no cost to use an on-demand pharmacy and the drugs are typically the same price as your local CVS or Walgreens.
If you want the prescription in under an hour, some will offer an expedited delivery option for a small fee.
What are the restrictions?
For controlled and refrigerated medications, there may be some identification requirements. For example, at NowRx we require a signature and ID for all controlled medications.
You’ve Got Options
So to recap, there are three main options to have your prescriptions delivered:
Traditional Pharmacies – Simple process, $$$ delivery fees, restrictions on certain medications
Mail-Order Pharmacies – Some setup required, no delivery fees, restrictions on certain meds
On-Demand Pharmacies – Simple process, no delivery fee, No restrictions on medications
At a time when people are taking steps to self-quarantine and socially distance themselves, pharmacy delivery services are quickly growing in popularity and it is easy to see why.
The best choice for you is a personal one and will depend on a number of factors including your health insurance plan.
Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out what options are available based on your medication and personal circumstances.