A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Florence’s HealthWarehouse.com seeing surge in online pharmacy purchases amid COVID pandemic

By Matt Baron
Special to NKyTribune

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Kentucky residents looking to fill their prescription drugs without leaving home have more opportunity than ever before.

Key pieces that have broadened treatment reach: the pharmacies are encouraging earlier refills, and states’ Boards of Pharmacy and Medicine, including Kentucky, have issued Emergency Order regulation changes.

These regulatory shifts, along with widespread shelter-in-place orders designed to limit face-to-face interaction between individuals, have set the stage for mail-order pharmacy companies to fill the gap. In addition, mail-order pharmacies enjoy the same advantages of other e-commerce categories, such as avoiding the substantial overhead costs of brick-and-mortar stores.

HealthWarehouse CEO Joseph Peters (Photo provided)

Two years ago, 11% of U.S. adult pharmacy customers got their prescription from an online pharmacy, based on a survey conducted by market research firm CivicScience, That figure has been steadily rising over the years, according to Statista.com, an online statistics portal.

If a recent boom experienced by HealthWarehouse.com in Florence is any indication, those figures may well significantly increase this year. Founded in 2008, the company is the longest-running American online pharmacy and is the first nationally licensed online pharmacy.

Headquartered on Industrial Road in Florence in Northern Kentucky HealthWarehouse.com began seeing an unprecedented surge in the second week of March, said CEO Joseph Peters.

“Starting March 9th, the pace has been off the charts,” said Peters. “Not only our pre-existing customers—we’ve served over half a million in our history—but also we have had a sharp rise in new customers. People who traditionally have gone to pharmacies in their community are moving toward mail order, cash pharmacies and ordering in larger quantities. We expect this trend to accelerate in the coming weeks and months.”

That spike in volume includes orders from those in Kentucky, Peters added. The trend toward increased online pharmacy purchases is likely to continue well beyond the as-yet unclear length of time required to halt the COVID-19 crisis.

“Online shopping has become an increasingly common way of life for Americans. For a variety of reasons, prescription drugs have lagged,” Peters noted. “But I foresee one of the byproducts of this unprecedented time is that more people will be drawn to the savings, convenience and safety of online services to fill their healthcare needs.”

Part of HealthWarehouse.com’s appeal as a cash pharmacy is that there is no need to artificially keep prescription drug costs higher in order to maintain insurance reimbursements. In addition, the company can order larger quantities without restrictions set by insurers.

Dr. Kim Langdon, a retired University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist with 19 years of clinical experience, is a longtime customer. She has recommended HealthWarehouse.com to many family members as well as other doctors.

“It’s cost-effective,” said Langdon. “It’s a very simple, hassle-free way to get your medications.”

However, early adopters like Langdon have been outnumbered by others who have been reluctant to make the shift—sometimes with good reason. Over the years, questions about the legitimacy and safety of online pharmacies have hindered the sector’s growth.

Dr. Luke Hoffman, a registered Pharmacist on staff with HealthWarehouse.com, reviews the company’s RDS Robotic Dispensing technology, part of the Florence-based company’s high-volume custom prescription fulfillment system. (Photo by Ross Goetz)

When people think about online ordering, their thoughts may turn to Canada, which has developed a reputation as the go-to place for more affordable drugs. That perception has prompted states such as Vermont, Utah, Oklahoma and West Virginia to explore ways to procure drugs from there.
But Canadian websites, in many instances, have long been purveying drugs lacking quality control from governing agencies—giving rise to significant questions about the potency and safety of those drugs, as noted in a report by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies.

“These sites are among the nearly 11,700 websites selling prescription medications that NABP has reviewed since 2008,” the report stated. “In all, NABP has found nearly 96% of these sites to be operating illegally, out of compliance with state and federal laws and/or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice.”

Those kinds of problems led to the July 2018 shuttering of Canada’s largest online pharmacy, www.CanadaDrugs.com. Among other resources, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides extensive detail about the illegal, unethical and dangerous activities that led to the demise of CanadaDrugs.com.

In the shadow of that and other industry scandals, Peters urged consumers to assert their power by shopping around, asking questions, and insisting on pricing transparency. In mid-March, as COVID-19 grew in scope nationally, HealthWarehouse.com issued a news release offering insights and recommendations to empower consumers.

Dr. Ross Goetz, a HealthWarehouse.com pharmacist, said it is “critical that Americans prepare rather than panic.”

“We support being proactive by ordering additional medication to last through a local outbreak,” Goetz said. “If you have questions or concerns about your prescriptions in this time of uncertainty, do not hesitate to call your pharmacy team.”

Matt Baron writes for HealthWarehouse.com

HealthWarehouse.com, located on Industrial Road in Florence.

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  1. jamesfedrick says:

    Your article is really impressive and I love reading them every time very helpful article, keep it up admin and thanks for sharing such a cool and nice posts.

  2. I would like to ask about the index of this journal, is it indexed in Scopus for 2020??

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