FEBRUARY 01, 2008

Pharmacy associations have applauded Congress for including key provisions in the final conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The report contains 2 important provisions related to the TRICARE prescription drug benefit for military beneficiaries.

The portion of the bill related to the TRICARE pharmacy program extends the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy copayments, preventing patients from being penalized for having their prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies as opposed to mail-order pharmacies. It also includes language that clarifies that the Department of Defense will be able to negotiate with drug manufacturers for prescription-drug federal pricing discounts at retail pharmacies, as is currently the case with mailorder pharmacies.

"Congress chose the prudent course of action by working to level the playing field for community pharmacies, so they can remain a viable, cost-effective option for TRICARE patients who deserve a choice when deciding where to get their prescription drugs filled," said Bruce Roberts, RPh, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

On the TRICARE issue, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has partnered with NCPA through the Coalition for Community Pharmacy, as well as with military beneficiary groups and others committed to protecting the right of TRICARE beneficiaries to use the pharmacy of their choice.