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WASHINGTON — Heartburn sufferers can get some relief from their prescription prices under a new program launched through Tricare.

The pilot will allow military members or dependents who use the health system’s mail order pharmacy to skip any co-pays for the over-the-counter version of Prilosec, a proton pump inhibitor designed for gastrointestinal ailments.

Patients who receive similar prescription drugs from a military pharmacy currently do not have any fees, but others face a $9 co-pay for a 90-day prescription through the mail or a 30-day prescription from a retail pharmacy.

Tricare spokeswoman Bonnie Powell said although the move will only affect that one heartburn-suffering segment of the health system’s patients, if successful, Tricare officials plan on expanding the program beyond that class of drugs.

Topical anti-fungal medicines and nonsedating antihistamines could be added before the end of the year, she said.

Officials opted to launch the program with gastrointestinal drugs because they’re among the most prescribed in the system.

Prilosec OTC is the only over-the-counter heartburn medicine currently available through Tricare. Other classes with over-the-counter or generic versions cost only $3 for a 90-day mail prescription, but some nonformulary brand cost up to $22 for 90 days of medicine.

For more information on the program, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/tmop.cfm.


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