To the editor:

Deseret Mutual Benefits Association (DMBA) has recently made an extremely unfortunate decision regarding prescription drug benefits for the employees of the LDS Church.DMBA has contracted with a mail order prescription company to provide medications for its clients. There are numerous reasons why this decision ill serves those who receive benefits from DMBA, but space allows me to list only a few.

Procuring drugs by mail is unsafe for several reasons. First, pranksters can steal drugs from mailboxes. This already takes place with Social Security checks. Also, drugs can deteriorate in the extreme summer and winter temperatures of mailboxes exposed to the elements. There is no way for a patient to determine whether a drug that has been sitting in a mailbox has broken down from improper storage.

Another factor worth considering is that the company with which DMBA has contracted escaped prosecution for manslaughter only because the Latah County, Idaho, prosecutor lacked resources to continue a battle with the giant mail order drug firm over the death of an Idaho woman. She died from allegedly receiving the wrong drug in the mail.

The contract with an out-of-state firm clearly demonstrates a "Don't Buy Utah" philosophy. During a television interview, a representative of DMBA implied that Utah pharmacists cannot provide quality pharmacy services, but a mail order company could.

Two studies, conducted by an impartial prescription insurance claims processing company, clearly demonstrated that mail order prescription systems are more costly than traditional plans. DMBA would rather spend more to send prescriptions out of state than use qualified Utah pharmacists to provide convenient, quality, cost-effective pharmacy services.

Pharmacists in Utah can provide personal counseling to patients about proper use of medications and can provide medications at the time needed them, not the week it takes to go to a mail order company and back.

William J. Stilling

Utah Pharmaceutical Association