CVS will leave the Tricare pharmacy network, replaced by drug giant Walgreens starting Dec. 1, the Defense Health Agency announced Friday.

All CVS pharmacies, including those inside Target stores, will no longer be considered "in network," but Walgreens, a company that left Tricare in 2011 in a nasty dispute over drug discounts will return, according to DHA.

Tricare officials said the network agreement reached with Walgreens will "provide better value and maintain convenient access for beneficiaries."

The network will have roughly 58,000 locations, with 98 percent of Tricare beneficiaries living within 5 miles of a network store, officials said.

Under the agreement, all prescriptions filled at a CVS store after Dec. 1 will be considered non-network prescriptions. Beneficiaries will have to pay the full cost of their medication up front and file a claim with Tricare for partial reimbursement.

DHA officials said Express Scripts would be reaching out to patients who take specialty medications to help them transfer their prescriptions without a gap in coverage.

A dispute between Walgreens and Express Scripts over reimbursement rates and prices in 2011 ended the companies’ relationship. Since then, Tricare has implemented policies requiring many beneficiaries to get their medications through Express Scripts’ mail order system or at military pharmacies -- both of which cost the government less money than retail service.

Other retail pharmacies not affiliated with CVS will remain in the network. The Rite-Aid chain is among the retailers that will continue to take Tricare.

Tricare provides coverage to 9.4 million beneficiaries worldwide.

More information is available on

Patricia Kime covers military health care and medicine for Military Times. She can be reached at

Patricia Kime is a senior writer covering military and veterans health care, medicine and personnel issues.

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