A growing trend in our industry is “Physician Dispensing.” This is when a medical provider sells the drugs from their office instead of writing a prescription and sending them to the pharmacy.
Some companies will go to physician offices and set up “vending machines” with the most common drugs to be sold. Then physicians get a cut of the profits.
Issues with this practice include:
- The costs are way higher than a pharmacy or PBM (pharmacy benefit manager). They can only sell these drugs to workers’ compensation, auto or liability patients in states that allow it. Group health will not pay enough so this method is not worth it to them.
- There is a massive incentive for physicians to prescribe drugs, even when they are not needed. This is ESPECIALLY true for addictive drugs that could require lots of follow-up visits and prescriptions.
- It circumvents the formulary and controls of a PBM.
- The physician can only prescribe what they have in-house, which may not be the best choice for the patient, may not be a generic, etc. The machines have limited selections.
No matter how you slice it, there is no benefit to society (except that the patient does not have to go to a Walgreens). This small inconvenience does not seem to be a reasonable offset for the cost.
Read this amusing article addressing this topic, “Physician Dispensing and Arguing with Idiots.”