Post Office Changes Could Slow Pill Shipments, Advocates Say

Nearly two dozen patient-advocacy groups denounced cuts to the U.S. Postal Service and urged improvements to ensure people with chronic conditions receive life-sustaining medications.

The American Diabetes Association wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday expressing concern that changes to the Post Office could result in delays that may compromise people’s health. While applauding his pledge to postpone changes until after the election, the association, which was joined by groups including the Arthritis Foundation and the National Kidney Foundation, pushed DeJoy to reverse changes to package operations and delivery standards.

“By going further than suspending the changes and returning to the status quo, we can ensure that all Americans get the access to the health supplies they need,” the groups said in the letter.

Cuts to the Post Office have prompted sharp criticism from lawmakers and patient advocates. They pose a “severe risk” to people with chronic conditions who rely on USPS to receive needed prescriptions like insulin in a timely manner, the groups said in their letter.

When reached for comment on the letter, a Postal Service spokesman pointed to DeJoy’s testimony to a House subcommittee on Monday. DeJoy in his oral statement sought to correct “inaccuracies” about his actions and said USPS continues to fulfill its “essential role” in delivering medications.

About 120 million prescriptions are sent through the U.S. Postal Service annually, according to an estimate from Drug Channels Institute Chief Executive Officer Adam Fein. The American Diabetes Association is polling its members to see how many are experiencing delays, Chief Executive Officer Tracey Brown said in an interview Monday.

Some people have experienced delays, she said, though most are anxious about the possibility. Drugs like insulin and supplies such as glucose meters are crucial for people living with diabetes.

Regardless what happens with the current controversy, Brown said that something will have to be done to address the Postal Services’ financial challenges.

“That’s why we like trying to get ahead of these things, so we’re not sorting out issues in real time,” she said. “This will have an impact. Full stop.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.