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Pitfalls of receiving prescription drugs through the mail

The impacts of winter conditions on medications sent through the mail.
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 7:00 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The coronavirus pandemic continues to push people into more e-commerce and online alternatives for routine activities, including trips to the pharmacy, but such a short cut could be creating problems while trying to offer convince and social distancing.

Patients are using mail as a way to get prescription drugs without heading to a pharmacy, minimizing the contact necessary to get critical medication. Alternative methods of health care are becoming more routine during the pandemic, as patients find help from doctors and specialist, thanks to telehealth and e-charts, however, mail-order prescriptions have been taking off for some years; especially in states like Wisconsin.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the state of Wisconsin ranked 15th in the country for prescription drugs per capita in 2019. However, the negative impacts the cold has on medicine like Cyclosporine Gel Caps or insulin tampers with critical prescriptions.

“Types of medication like gel capsules or insulin are supposed to be stored in controlled temperature environments,” said Thad Schumacher, a local pharmacist in Fitchburg. “When those types of medication are on your front porch for a day or two, they freeze, compromising the prescription.”

Another problem, especially in a year that has seen an increase of 1.2 billion packages shipped through the USPS, is the consequences of lost packages containing medication.

But solutions are in the works. Putting tighter restrictions on when medications need to be delivered and how they are delivered are ways to make sure patients get their orders in a timely way, before extreme outdoor conditions impact the drugs.

The Phar 7 regulation has been rewritten to create tighter restrictions on how prescriptions are packaged and delivered. Those new regulations go into affect on January 1st. Another option is going through your local pharmacy for deliveries to your doorstep, to ensure the medication delivered is not let in the cold to be damaged.

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