E&C Leaders Officially Launch Investigation into Impact of Postal Service Changes on Prescription Drug Deliveries
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) sent a series of oversight letters to pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers and the relevant trade associations today as part of the Committee’s investigation into the impacts of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS or Postal Service) operational changes on the delivery of mail-order prescription drugs to patients throughout the nation. The Committee first announced the investigation in a statement earlier this week.
“We have serious concerns that the Trump Administration’s restructuring efforts within USPS, occurring as the nation faces the [COVID-19] pandemic, may be leading to delivery delays of prescription medications, adversely affecting the health of millions of Americans who depend on the Postal Service to receive their medications,” the Committee leaders wrote in their letters. “Our concern is further heightened given that these changes began while the nation continues to endure the public health threat of COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, mail services are even more essential as many Americans continue to follow social distancing guidelines and remain at home to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
The Committee leaders noted that they remain concerned despite the temporary suspension of further changes announced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy earlier this week.
“While Postmaster General DeJoy announced on August 18, 2020, that he would suspend changes to USPS until after the Presidential election on November 3, 2020, our concerns remain,” the Committee leaders continued. “It is still not clear if changes already underway will be reversed, and if not, how they may still impact patients who receive their prescriptions through the mail both now through Election Day and beyond.”
According the National Association of Letter Carriers, the Postal Services normally handles 1.2 billion prescription drug shipments a year. However, mail-order prescription delivery volume has expanded rapidly since the coronavirus outbreak. According to recent analysis, the number of mail-order prescriptions increased by 21 percent in March 2020 alone as a result of the pandemic.
“Given the increasing reliance on mail-order prescription delivery and the critical need to ensure all patients are receiving their medications in a timely manner, we are writing to request information to better understand how the changes within the Postal Service, may have impacted delivery of prescription medications and the health and well-being of Americans,” the Committee leaders wrote. “These changes are particularly worrisome in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are interested in learning about both the impacts that have already occurred and what you anticipate happening if the changes are fully implemented after the election.”
As part of their inquiry, the Committee requested documents and answers to a series of questions no later than September 11, 2020.
The full letters are available below: