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NEWS | Oct. 12, 2012

Med Group expands formulary, matches other JBSA pharmacies

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

The 359th Medical Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph has expanded its drug formulary to better serve its customers and match the formularies at the other JBSA locations.

"Since the beginning of summer, we've made an effort to expand our formulary to what they have at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center and San Antonio Military Medical Center pharmacies," Capt. Timothy Weigle, 359th Medical Support Squadron clinic pharmacy officer in charge, said. "We don't necessarily have all of these medications in stock, but we will order any we don't have and get them to our customers in the next day or two, as long as they are in the formulary at WHASC and SAMMC."

Weigle said the 359th MDG, which operates the clinic and exchange pharmacies, works in tandem with the other JBSA medical treatment facilities "so that we have the most uniform medication availability possible, except for certain restricted items."

Restricted drugs are prescription medications that require special handling, administration or monitoring and are used to treat chronic, often costly, illnesses such as cancer, hepatitis C and various skin conditions.

"While we seek to have fully uniform formularies with all JBSA (military treatment facilities) there are some items that may have prescribing restrictions in place," Weigle said. "These restrictions are usually related to certain medical specialties such as dermatology or pain management. If a patient is prescribed a restricted medication from a specialist, he will need to have that prescription filled by a pharmacy at that facility, be it the WHASC or SAMMC."

Weigle said new drugs will continue to be added on a periodic basis.

"If a new drug is chosen for inclusion by JBSA's Joint Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee, it becomes available here," he said.

Weigle said last year's remodeling of the exchange pharmacy has made the workflow more efficient. This has enabled the staff to fill an increasing number of prescriptions without an increase in waiting times or sacrificing patient safety.

The number of prescriptions filled at both pharmacies increased from 316,322 in fiscal 2010 to 354,232 in fiscal 2011, a 12-percent increase.

"We had never hit 30,000 prescriptions in a single month until January 2011," he said. "This calendar year, only one month has been under 32,000. There's been steady growth over the last decade, but it's been remarkable over the last 18 months."

Weigle said with the closing of fiscal 2012, the Randolph pharmacies hit a new record for prescriptions filled with 391,366, another 11-percent increase from fiscal 2011.

He also said the expanded formulary is facilitating the growth of the pharmacies, making it more cost-effective for customers and the Air Force.

"Filling prescriptions on base, as opposed to filling at a retail pharmacy, is a more cost-effective option for everyone involved," he said. "While patients filling at retail pharmacies pay a co-pay on every prescription filled and are limited to 30-day supplies of their medication, patients who fill on base incur no costs and may receive 90-day supplies. Additionally, the government saves between 25 and 60 percent on average per prescription due to advantageous pricing on medications."