PORTSMOUTH -- The Scott Center Annex pharmacy began filling new prescriptions for TRICARE beneficiaries, Feb. 11.
For many years, the refill pharmacy has filled approximately 550,000 refill prescriptions annually, making it the largest freestanding refill center in the Navy. Now, after heeding customer suggestions, patrons will be able to take new prescriptions to the Scott Center Annex to be filled.
“We are trying to improve customer service and reduce wait times at the main pharmacy at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth,” said Cmdr. Roger Bunch, assistant head of NMCP’s Pharmacy Department.
To add the capability to fill new prescriptions, construction at the Scott Center Annex pharmacy cost approximately $100,000.
“We plan on saving half a million dollars annually on prescription (costs),” said Bunch. He added that it costs the government and taxpayers more money when TRICARE beneficiaries fill their prescriptions in town at retail pharmacies.
While the Scott Center Annex pharmacy was not enlarged to accommodate filling new prescriptions, the interior was re-configured to add space for two new pharmacists and six additional technicians.
The pharmacy is located adjacent to the Commissary and Navy Exchange just off George Washington Hwy. in Portsmouth, making it easy for patients to drop off their prescriptions before shopping and then picking them up as they leave the base. There’s also an abundance of handicapped and regular parking spaces adjacent to the pharmacy for patients to use.
Bunch said customers may stay and wait for their prescription to be filled, but the wait time can vary. He encourages customers to drop off their prescriptions and pick them up later at the drive-thru, or inside the pharmacy.
In 2010, wait times were dramatically decreased when the pharmacy installed robotics that fill up to 4,500 refills per day, quickly dispensing 300 different medications. Further efficiencies add value by bringing beneficiaries back to military pharmacies.
The changes at the Scott Center Annex pharmacy coincide with increases in prescription copays at retail pharmacies that occurred on Feb. 1. The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act required TRICARE to increase copays on brand name and non-formulary medications not filled at military hospitals or clinics. There was no increase in copays for generic medications.
“Medications filled at military pharmacies have no out-of-pocket costs,” said Lt. David Satterthwaite, a pharmacist and division officer at the Scott Center Annex pharmacy. “With the changes in TRICARE pharmacy copays, we hope more beneficiaries will choose to have their prescriptions filled at the Scott Center Annex pharmacy.”
At a retail network pharmacy, the new copay for a 30-day supply of a brand-name medication is $17. Beneficiaries using TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery now pay $13 for up to a 90-day supply of brand-name drugs.
The copay for non-formulary medications drugs is now $44 at retail pharmacies and $43 through Home Delivery. The TRICARE Uniform Formulary lists all the medications TRICARE covers.
Satterthwaite added, “The pharmacy now accepts medical necessity prescriptions written by a civilian provider as long the doctor has completed the form detailing the conditions that require this category of medications.” That form is available online at http://pec.ha.osd.mil/forms_criteria.php.
Bunch praised Satterthwaite’s work ethic overseeing the pharmacy’s renovation.
“He was hand-selected because of his demonstrated prowess in management,” he said. “He manages the facility, contractors, (information technology) specialists and the hiring processes, all while maintaining a refill program that’s the biggest in the Navy.”
Capt. Eugene de Lara, head of NMCP’s Pharmacy Department, is pleased at the support the command has given pharmacy over the past three years and the efforts of those involved in bringing this initiative to fruition.
With the new and expanded Scott Center Annex Commissary scheduled to open in May, it’s hoped the additional customers coming on-base to shop for groceries will also get their prescriptions filled at the Scott Center Annex pharmacy.
“We anticipate a great deal of business here and we’re looking forward to it,” said Satterthwaite. “We’re really focused on customer service and saving our beneficiaries and the government money. We hope anyone who’s a TRICARE beneficiary will give us a try and get their prescriptions filled here.”