Medco Health Solutions, one of the largest mail order pharmacy and pharmacy benefits management companies, is threatening to lock out unionized pharmacy technicians at their Las Vegas facility this Saturday, April 1 (interesting choice of dates). The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that the controversary is over – what else? – the employee share of health benefits premiums. It is the pharmacy technicians, not pharmacists, who are involved in this dispute. Medco Health operates other pharmacies across the country, and told the Journal that these pharmacies and contingent workers will be able to able the flow of prescriptions. Since my family uses Medco Health as part of our health coverage (thanks to my wife’s employer), we have a personal interest in this.
The takeaway: Mail order pharmacies are generally used for ongoing medication needs, where 90 day supplies save a lot of money for everyone, including the patient. Hopefully, these patients have either ordered refills when available, which can be several weeks before they run out. Threats of lockouts, as with any saber rattling in a negotation, often encourage both sides to work something out. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if you get a panicky call for samples or a 30 day supply.