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USPS delivery of prescription drugs could be marked by “significant” delays, according to the Senate report

Warren and Casey haven’t identified the pharmacies, but their report comes almost three weeks after asking Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies and benefits managers to detail the impact of DeJoy’s changes on the postal service. This summer, DeJoy introduced policies to reduce overtime and postal travel, which postal carriers say have left behind backlogs nationwide.

Four prescription drug suppliers told Warren and Casey that delivery times this summer have increased by an average of half a day or more compared to earlier this year or similar periods in 201

9. This emerges from the Senate report, which was shared with The Washington early on in the Post. Deliveries that normally could take two or three days took three to four, according to lawmakers, and a pharmacy in particular saw a “significant increase” in the number of shipping delays of seven days or more.

“These delays are by no means an unacceptable consequence, but are made worse by the ongoing pandemic that has increased the demand for mail order drugs as many Americans are affected by home orders or choosing to stay home to do so stay safe, ”the Senators wrote in a letter to the Postal Service’s Board of Governors.

In some cases, the medicine delays seem to have started around May when DeJoy was tapped for the job, but before he officially took the reins. The schedule increases the possibility that the coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to a slowdown in the number of prescription drugs being shipped, particularly as patients reload the system by moving from personal pickup to childbirth.

A USPS spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Warren and Casey still blamed DeJoy, citing his earlier claim that the new agency practices “shouldn’t have affected anyone.” Investigators found that their investigation found that only one of the pharmacies contacted had not experienced any material malfunctions over the summer – and that the provider said it did not rely heavily on USPS. The company is not named in the report, but Walgreens said in a separate statement that only an “extremely small percentage” of its prescriptions are processed by the postal service.

Warren and Casey urged the USPS board to take immediate action, stressing that its “failure to correct the service delays caused by Postmaster General DeJoy represents an ongoing public health threat and a rejection of your responsibility to the American public.” “. Warren added in a statement that DeJoy should resign or be fired.

The Senate Democratic results threaten to compound the headaches DeJoy has already faced, whose changes to the postal service in the name of austerity have generated widespread suspicion and condemnation. On Monday, the top House Democrats opened their own investigation, focusing on reports that DeJoy asked employees at his former company to donate to GOP candidates and then increased their pay. The House Oversight and Reform Committee lawmakers have raised the possibility that DeJoy under oath misled them.

Control of Congress began almost as soon as DeJoy assumed the title of Postmaster General on June 15. President Trump’s ally and former top Republican fundraiser set about revising the USPS’s budget, which has amassed $ 160.9 billion in debt amid declining first-class mail delivery and the rising cost of retirement benefits.

But DeJoy’s initiatives, including planned service reductions and the removal of mailboxes, sparked a backlash, particularly among Democrats, who feared it could undermine the 2020 presidential election – especially as Trump openly sought to discredit the postal vote, without proving it lead to rampant fraud.

DeJoy announced last month that he would put some of his significant changes in mail processing and delivery on hold until after the election, but his efforts did little to calm his Congressional critics. Democrats say they heard an ear from voters, many of whom didn’t get their supplies on time. That includes a fundamental wave of patients struggling to get their prescription drugs through USPS in the middle of a pandemic, Warren and Casey said.

To assess the matter, the two Democrats sent letters to Cigna Corp., which owns Express Scripts, last month. CVS Health; UnitedHealth Group, owned by OptumHealth; Humana; and the parent company for Walgreens and Duane Reade.

TJ Crawford, a spokesman for Aetna, said the company hadn’t seen the legislature’s findings but was working as part of a Washington coalition to fund emergency aid for USPS. Mark Mathis, a spokesman for Humana, said the company is seeing “increased shipping volume for small packages in the US that affects all carriers.” And Drew Krejci, a spokesman for Optum, said they “continuously monitor our shipments and make adjustments if necessary”. The companies didn’t answer questions about how the USPS changes might have caused problems.

Other pharmacies and performance managers did not respond to requests for comment.

Lawmakers asked companies to provide information about the number of customers receiving their prescriptions in the mail, the average shipping time, and the extent to which recent changes to postal service policies have created new delays for customers or costs for companies.

A company told Senate investigators that the average delivery time in July increased to 3.6 days, compared to 2.7 days the previous year. Another estimated that its prescriptions took an average of 3.2 days to arrive in July, compared to 2.7 days in 2019. A third said the number of prescriptions that took more than five days to arrive has since increased The pandemic began.

The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy, a nonprofit that was questioned by lawmakers, responded that there had been no widespread disruption as its members rely on special services such as refrigeration that USPS does not provide. But Julie Allen, a top lawyer for the group, said in an interview that she had heard isolated reports of delays, particularly affecting patients requiring weekend delivery or in rural areas.

“We have some anecdotal events for members that have seen a slowdown, particularly between March and July,” Allen said, adding it was impossible to tell whether the troubles, some of which were before DeJoy, were due to the pandemic or the Post changes are due.

The delays still threaten to put seniors, veterans and other Americans at risk of missing out on much-needed medication, according to Democratic lawmakers. They also caused headaches for pharmacies, including one that told Senate leaders that the number of customer calls and inquiries about missing mail-order drugs quadrupled between May and August. Another said there was an 80 percent increase in drug transshipment in July, bringing the total to about $ 700,000 in costs, the report said.

In response, Warren and Casey sent a separate letter to the Watchdog Board, which oversees the USPS, urging it “to take quick action to reverse these errors in the service”.

“As a member of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, you have both responsibility and authority to correct this growing problem.”

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