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Diabetics who use Mail Order Pharmacies are less likely to go to the ER

Update Date: Nov 22, 2013 11:58 AM EST

In today's society, getting medications no longer require people to travel to pharmacies. Now people can get their prescription drugs on the Internet, which can save time and money. In a new study, researchers compared diabetic patients who received their medications via mail order pharmacies to patients who physically picked up their prescriptions. The research team found that mail order pharmacy customers were less likely to visit emergency rooms than diabetics who got their prescriptions in person.

The Kaiser Permanente study looked at 17,217 adults with diabetes who were members of Kaiser Permanente, which is a health care company. The patients were first given their heart medications back in 2006 and were monitored for three years. The researchers found that 33.8 percent of people who used mail order pharmacies ended up visiting emergency rooms. On the other hand, 40.2 percent of diabetics who picked up their medications in store went to emergency rooms.

"Overall, we didn't see any safety concerns," said Julie A. Schmittdiel, PhD, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study's lead author reported by Medical Xpress. "For the vast majority of people, mail order pharmacy works well."

This study was the first to compare mail order pharmacies to in-store pharmacies. Kaiser Permanente currently offers both options for its members. The mail-in medications are shipped for free and can be placed via the phone or online. Furthermore, the copayments for mail order medications are generally lower than the medications at walk-in pharmacies even if the supply is completely the same. The discrepancy between the prices was not examined in this study. The study also could not determine why fewer people in the mail order group visited emergency rooms.

The study was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

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