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NACDS sends letter to President encouraging enactment of Defense Authorization Bill

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores sent a letter to President George W. Bush Thursday urging the prompt enactment of H.R. 1585, the Conference Report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The Act includes provisions that NACDS stated in the letter will “provide savings to the Department of Defense and preserve TRICARE beneficiary access to retail pharmacies.”

The bill contains two key provisions that address the TRICARE prescription drug benefit for military beneficiaries. Among them: an extension of the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, so that patients covered by the military health plan won’t be penalized for filling their prescriptions at a community pharmacy rather than through a mail-order facility. The bill also affirms the right of the DoD to negotiate with drug manufacturers for federal pricing discounts that would apply to prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, as well as those that currently apply to drugs filled at military bases or by mail order facilities.

Last week, both the Senate and House of Representatives passed a final version of the Defense Authorization Act. Citing the “extensive grassroots and lobbying campaign” his organization conducted to ensure those elements were included in the defense spending bill, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson called the Senate’s approval of the provisions “a victory for community pharmacy and the military patients we serve.”

NACDS has worked closely with Congress to advance this legislation. The TRICARE-related pharmacy provisions will help ensure access to retail pharmacies, which are preferred by TRICARE beneficiaries. In Fiscal Year 2006, retail pharmacies dispensed over 55 million TRICARE prescriptions, more than any other practice setting, NACDS reported. To be enacted, President Bush must sign the measure.

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