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Thursday, October 12, 2006

White House, Lobbyists, and the House to Keep TRICARE Drug Prices High

This is quite amazing news. From Tom Philpott at Military.com:

Pressured by the White House and drug industry lobbyists, Congress has killed a Senate-passed provision that would have forced pharmaceutical manufacturers to grant the Department of Defense deep discounts on drugs dispensed through the TRICARE retail pharmacy network.

House Republicans were under enormous pressure last month to sideline a provision inserted in the 2007 defense authorization bill that would cut 40 percent or more off the cost of many drugs available to TRICARE beneficiaries through retail network pharmacies and stores.

DoD officials contend that the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 requires drug makers to include TRICARE retail drugs in Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) discount agreements negotiated with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The discounts already apply to drugs dispensed through base pharmacies, the TRICARE mail order program and VA pharmacies. ...

After the Senate passed its bill, White House politicos began to pressure House Republicans to fight the Senate provision in final negotiations over the defense bill, in effect, undercutting their own Defense Department as it strives to curb soaring drug costs. “Tremendous forces” targeted conferees from the armed services committees as they began to negotiate over the bill, said a staff member. “Pharmacies, drug manufacturers…the politics went right through the roof.”

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