An audit found that the Department of Defense's Tricare mail-order pharmacy program cost the government and beneficiaries less money than retail pharmacies, according to Express Scripts Inc., which administers the program.


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DoD audit: Tricare mail-order Rx costs less than retail pharmacies

September 4th, 2013

ST. LOUIS – An audit found that the Department of Defense's Tricare mail-order pharmacy program cost the government and beneficiaries less money than retail pharmacies, according to Express Scripts Inc., which administers the program.

The pharmacy benefit manager said Wednesday that at the request of Congress last year, the DoD Inspector General conducted an audit of the Tricare mail-order services and found that it saved 16.7% — about $67 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2012 — when comparing the amount spent by the government on prescription drugs through mail order with what it would have cost at retail pharmacies.

According to the PBM, the Tricare mail-order pharmacy program has 9.6 million beneficiaries.

"The Tricare mail-order pharmacy program [TMOP] has features that are advantageous for beneficiary health," Nancy Gilbride, vice president and general manager of Express Scripts' Federal Pharmacy Services, said in a statement. "Another benefit of the TMOP program is the automatic refill and shipment option designed to ensure beneficiaries' medications are available on time without lapse. The TMOP program provides cost savings to the Department of Defense while potentially preventing health risks to DoD beneficiaries.

In addition, Express Scripts reported, the DoD Inspector General's analysis found that prescriptions filled through the mail pharmacy program were 99.997% free of clinical errors, such as shipping the incorrect pharmaceuticals, while retail pharmacies on average were 98.5% error-free. The PBM attributed the higher dispensing accuracy, in part, to automated filling of high-volume pharmaceuticals. 

"We performed this audit on the Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP) program as requested by congressional members from the Senate and the House of Representatives. Congressional members indicated that their overall concern was whether the TMOP program was providing prescription drugs in the most efficient and cost-effective manner," stated the DoD audit report. "We determined it was generally more cost-efficient for beneficiaries to obtain pharmaceuticals through the TMOP program than through retail pharmacies. In addition, adequate controls in the TMOP program over dispensing pharmaceuticals were in place."

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