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TRICARE Returns to Zero Copay on OTC Meds

Posted at 03:57 PM on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 by newJersey

FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Positive feedback and cost savings means TRICARE's over-the-counter medication demonstration continues without copayments. The demonstration allows TRICARE beneficiaries to substitute over-the-counter versions for selected prescription drugs.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications available through the program include allergy medications cetirizine and loratadine, and heartburn medications (proton-pump inhibitors) Prilosec OTC and its generic form omeprazole.

The two-year OTC demonstration did not require a copay for covered OTC medications when it began at TRICARE retail pharmacies in October 2007. When the demonstration was extended in November 2009, it coincided with the start of a new pharmacy contract. A $3 copay was required until systems changes could be made and that work is now complete.

"This is a very positive program and we're excited to return to a zero copay," said Rear Adm. Thomas McGinnis, chief of the TRICARE Pharmaceutical Operations Directorate. "This is one way we are working hard to keep costs lower - for our beneficiaries and for the Department of Defense."

OTC medications are generally less expensive than their prescription versions, by as much as 400 percent in some cases.

To receive covered OTC medications with no out-of-pocket costs, beneficiaries still need a prescription from their health care provider specifically for the OTC drug. After submitting the prescription at any TRICARE retail network pharmacy or the TRICARE mail-order pharmacy, the prescription for the OTC medication is filled at no cost.

For more information about the TRICARE Pharmacy Program, go to http://www.tricare.mil/pharmacy.

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