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Walgreens still out of Tricare pharmacy network

Sep. 6, 2012 - 09:41AM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 6, 2012 - 09:41AM  |  
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Walgreens, the drug giant that left Tricare's retail pharmacy network in December over a dispute with the company that manages Tricare's pharmacy program, will remain outside the network of pharmacies serving military beneficiaries, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

In a statement posted on Tricare's website, officials said pharmacy manager Express Scripts "has determined that it will maintain the same robust retail pharmacy network" that it already has, and "Walgreens will remain designated as a non-network pharmacy provider."

The decision locks Walgreens out of the group of pharmacies approved by Tricare and Express Scripts to provide in-network discounts.

A dispute between Walgreens and Express Scripts terminated their relationship at the end of 2011. In July, the two struck an agreement that allows many Express Scripts-managed health plans to fill prescriptions at Walgreens starting on Sept. 15.

But Tricare won't be among them.

A Walgreens spokesman said in July that the decision ultimately would be up to individual health care plans to decide whether they would bring Walgreens back into their networks.

In January, Rear Adm. Thomas McGinnis, chief of Tricare's Pharmaceutical Operations Directorate, predicted that Walgreens' exit from the Tricare pharmacy network would benefit the Defense Department because it would push more beneficiaries to use military pharmacies and home delivery — both of which cost the government less money than retail service.

Tricare announced in August it received a record 1.38 million prescription orders in May through its home delivery option.

Use of mail order for the year to date increased by 30 percent, and retail pharmacy use dropped by 10 percent compared with the same time period in 2011, according to figures provided by the Tricare Management Activity.

Without Walgreens participating as a network provider, Tricare still maintains a network relationship with 57,600 retail pharmacies — "more than the worldwide number of McDonald's and Starbucks combined," Tricare spokesman Austin Camacho said.

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