Express Scripts

by brendan on 07/17/2010

I don’t seem to have great luck with my pharmacies.

Last fall Walgreens gave me the wrong drugs for a month. I’ve also consistently run into issues with them either not having my full prescription available when I show up, or with the wrong doctor being called to approve my refills. So I decided to go straight to the source, and try mail ordering my drugs from my Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) company.

That PBM is Express Scripts. I placed the order via their website on 5/29. It arrived this morning, 49 days later. Is it just me, or is that a really, really bad turnaround? If my book from Amazon takes 49 days to get to me, I’ll probably be pretty annoyed. If my prescription drugs take 49 days to get to me, I could be pretty dead.

So what was the hold up? It wasn’t the shipping. The package shipped UPS Next Day Air from Arizona yesterday and showed up on my doorstep at 10am today. It also isn’t likely to have been my doctor, since I’ve been taking these drugs for 5 years now and getting refill approvals is a routine matter. Walgreens usually has the order ready in 24-48 hours; even when there have been questions or Walgreens had trouble reaching my doctor I never had to wait more than 5 days.

The truth is, I have no idea why it took 49 days for my trunk of pills to arrive. I sent two emails to the Express Scripts Patient Care Team specifically asking what the holdup was, and if I needed to contact my doctor or resubmit the order. Both emails were greeted with apologies and vague bolierplates about possibly needing to get approvals and how my patience was appreciated. They also listed their standard interval, which was that it could take up to 2-3 weeks for the order to reach me. Even that probably padded estimate of 21 days seems way too long to me, but they still missed it by a mile (in this case a mile = 28 days).

Express Scripts is headquartered in my hometown, and I have family and friends who work there, so this rant is certainly not personal. I wanted nothing more than for the transaction to go smoothly. I was going to place the order and have it arrive a week or two later, and I was going to be so happy with the process that I would ditch Walgreens and permanently convert to the masterful mail-order method. Not so much. I guess I’ll try Target next.

If you want to see what 1080 pills look like crammed into a chilled styrofoam trunk, I put pictures up on my Flickr account here.

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