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TRICARE Beneficiaries Have Several Pharmacy Options

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2011 – Despite questions about whether the Walgreens pharmacy chain will continue as a TRICARE provider, beneficiaries will have several options for filling prescriptions, Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen M. Lainez said today.

The retail pharmacy contract between Express Scripts Inc., or ESI, and the Walgreens pharmacy chain is set to expire on Dec. 31, she added.

If the contract is not renewed, Walgreens will no longer be a pharmacy network provider, Lainez said, but beneficiaries will be able to find a nearby network pharmacy using the “find a pharmacy" feature at the ESI website, http://www.express-scripts.com/tricare.

“We are committed to ensuring all our pharmacy beneficiaries are aware of the many options that TRICARE makes available to them,” said Army Brig. Gen. Bryan Gamble, TRICARE deputy director. “By now, all of our beneficiaries who use Walgreens to fill prescriptions should have been contacted to advise them of their pharmacy options and to take action to ensure their pharmacy benefit remains uninterrupted. The health of our service members, retirees and their families remains my number one priority.”

In addition to 56,000 network pharmacies, Lainez said, TRICARE beneficiaries have other pharmacy options, including military pharmacies at no cost; and convenient, low-cost TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery.

Beneficiaries can check the TRICARE website at http://www.tricare.mil for more information.

ESI has mailed information or contacted beneficiaries who use Walgreens by telephone, and in December, they followed up with reminder letters.

If needed, beneficiaries can take current prescription bottles to a new network pharmacy to have prescriptions transferred.

Beneficiaries who need help finding a pharmacy or changing their medications to home delivery, or who have other questions, can contact Express Scripts at 1-877-885-6313.


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Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

1/10/2012 11:08:16 PM
I recommend using a local community pharmacist. You get highly professional service, you are not subjected to all of the commercialization of the "big box" pharmacies, and it is a relaxed, personal atmosphere. In some instances, you may pay a higher co-pay, but at least you know who's filling your prescription. You see the pharmacist face-to-face; you can ask questions about your medications, and they can give you their professional clinical advice on the spot. It always seems like there is a line at the bigger pharmacies. It is sometimes difficult talk to the pharmacist at the big boys and you wind up talking to the technician. If you're in a real old pharmacy with of soda fountain, and you have to wait a few minutes for your prescription, you can even get a cherry phosphate while you wait!
- Mike L, Kansas

1/5/2012 5:37:13 PM
I am also unhappy about this decision also. I have used Walgreens for years and do not want to change pharmacies. I understand that we can easily get our prescriptions for free or cheaper by going to express scripts or to a military pharmacy. As far as going to the military pharmacy, well first there is no drive-thru so that would mean I would have to take my two little ones inside and then I would have to wait with my autistic kid who does have a problem with sitting and waiting. I don't mind that I have to pay a few bucks to get my prescription if it means I don't have to make my autistic son uncomfortable while waiting in a line to get it. I don't think it should be up to anyone but me as to where I get my prescriptions from. It's my choice and my husband defends this country so that whoever can sit behind a desk and decide where military families can get there prescriptions.
- Carrie, Richlands,NC

1/4/2012 11:21:28 AM
My wife is on taking Kadian 100 mg twice a day which walgreens carried. Recently we found out when we tried to refill the prescription that kadian was discontinued and a generic equivalent was to be used. WE WERE NEVER NOTIFIED OF THIS and the genic equaivalent was no where in town and had to be special, ordered what an ordeal for my wife!
- Ken Rippel, myrtle beach,SC

1/3/2012 11:20:44 PM
My 3 year old daughter requires a compounded medication that can only be mixed at certain pharmacies and compounded by certain specially trained pharmacists. Unfortunately, Walgreens is the only pharmacy with a qualified pharmicist any where near us that can do this. We exhausted the list Express Scripts gave us. I imagine to the customer requiring off the shelf mess this is no big deal, but to us...this is unaccaptable!
- Mike, League city, TX

1/3/2012 8:39:37 PM
While ES mail order program for 90 day medication refills is cost effective, ES turned down an offer from Walgreens allowing you to have 90 day prices and pick up your medication locally so the mail order advantage would have been the same. Next, how many 24 hr pharmacies are in your area for when you need medication immediately? I now have to drive 11 miles to a CVS for 24hr service instead of 2...
- Mike, Cincinnati, OH

12/30/2011 5:26:12 PM
I have pharmacy that I can walk to but now I cannot use. Yes I use the FHCC at Great Lakes for routine stuff but for emergency I used walgreen.... Is this is the choice that Obama promised. Express Scripts should lose the contract.
- Stephen Thompson, Kenosa

12/30/2011 12:43:39 PM
Once again, you have lost the plot. We have served this country honorably, yet you have allowed a corporation to run a "privilege" and deminish it at will. If you disagree with this situation, I urge you to send your Senator a letter (e-mail). If we do nothing, we get what we deserve. (maybe this comment will pass the screening process)
- Michael Fierstos, Martinsville, VA

12/30/2011 10:11:48 AM
I disagree. I've been with ESI for years now, and the only issue I've had is a need to place my refill orders two weeks before my scrips run out, because it takes ESI a long time to fill and ship scrips. Once I figured that out, everything's been fine. On the other hand, Walgreens is so bad that my PCM has always refused to use them.
- Tony Marinelli, New Orleans, LA

12/30/2011 12:28:06 AM
My wife and I do not want to change from Walgreens Pharmacy. We are very satisfied with Walgreens. They always have the medications that I need whereby the other Pharmacies always have to order and I have to wait. I am very satisfied with the People of Walgreens as they are the most friendly in all of the stores I have visited. When we take a trip all we have to do is stop in Walgreens where we are visiting and they always fill my prescriptions. Everyone of my friends and family members that are express script members use Walgreens and all do not want to change. WE WANT WALGREENS TO REMAIN IN THE SYSTEM! Please help us please.
- David Griffin, Wallace, North Carolina

12/29/2011 11:22:40 PM
Just because Express Scripts is owned by a phamicutical corporation does not give them the right to take away my privilage to have my prescriptions filled where it is convenient for me. I have tried other pharmacies and I do not like their systems of notifications of side effects and warning lables that are so small you need a magnifying glass to read them. The personalization from Walgreens has been outstanding. This whole episode needs to be investigated by an outside agency.
- Susanne McMurray, Rochester, NY USA

12/29/2011 9:31:52 PM
I have nothing but praise for Express Scripts (ES). I have been using ES for approximately 5 years for myself and my wife and thus far have received excellent service. It only makes economically sense to use ES when it comes to mail order prescriptions. Only a fool pays more at a pharmacy rather than using ES for the same prescription.
- Thomas Garner, Florida

12/29/2011 8:21:54 PM
they do not care about the service person retired or active. They have set the co pay for medicine than they say that Walgreen will not come down on their cost so that expressw script can pass on to customers. express script set prices for the pills and is the same no matter where you get them. they are just looking for cheaper places to get them filled so they make more money from the people that made them and keep them free
- Frank, USA

12/29/2011 6:37:49 PM
DoD/TMA allowed Express Scripts to use TRICARE Beneficiaries as a negotiating tool for their other corporate customers. Once Walgreens agreed to match/beat the current rates, the deal should have been completed. Now Express Scripts is stating that they cannot complete individual or tailored agreements with Walgreens, etc. Since when DoD/TMA agreements with their contractors depend on their agreements with other customers? Even with all the notifications and publicity efforts regarding the ESI-Walgreens issue, there will be many TRICARE Beneficiaries affected by the position taken by Express Scripts of not renewing the Walgreens contract.
- Jose, Puerto Rico

12/29/2011 5:53:58 PM
I am sorry David has had a poor experience, but we have used Express Scripts pharmacy by mail for quite a few years, and I have thought they do a wonderful job. They always let us know when a new subscription is being mailed and a reminder when a new subscription is needed. We have always gotten great service.
- Phyllis Lewis, Iowa

12/29/2011 5:30:27 PM
My familey and I would like to use the CVS drug stores or the Walgreen's nearus. It is almost fifty miles round trip to get refills at Maxore.

12/29/2011 5:25:58 PM
Do you know the major shortage of ADHD medications? Each month I have to canvass pharmacies in my area. I rarely find the medicine at the same pharmacy from one month to the next. Express Scripts cannot provide this scheduled medicine. So now you have removed another source to fill these prescriptions. This is another example of our deminishing health benifits. Walgreen's is the largest pharmacy in the US. Last month I had to drive 50 minutes to get the medicines. Finally, I refuse to pay for express shipping, now it takes 23 days for prescriptions to arrive once Express Scrpts fills an order, is this acceptable?
- Michael Fierstos, Martinsville, VA

12/29/2011 5:11:08 PM
I I have used Express Scripts for many years for home delivery. I have had a small amount of trouble with the doctors office faxing them scripts, but nothing that wasn't corrected in a timely manner. I have found them to be really good to deal with
- t. yarbrough, jacksonville fl

12/29/2011 5:08:25 PM
I am so sorry that you couldn't put the needs of ALL of your patients before the greed. I've tried mail order prescriptions and it was a total disaster. Packages showed up damaged, left out in 100 plus degree heat or delayed by weeks due to bad weather. One box just plain went missing. Trying to get someone at Express Scripts to believe me and get another refill was a nightmare! We've used the local Walgreens for years. They truly care about us and are very good at watching out us. Plus, how can you ask questions about your meds to a website? Just plain scary.... Patient health should come first!!!
- J. Strickland, Colorado Springs

12/29/2011 3:17:49 PM
Express Scripts is the most incompetent pharmacy group in the world. I don't think most of their employees who screen mail order prescriptions have a high school education. If a retail pharmacy incorrectly filled or failed to fill scripts they'd be out of business. DoD fails to even monitor the contract and makes ES the arbiter of complaints. Ridiculous!!!
- David Guith, United States

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