The Department of Defense has decided to go against its typical restrictions against experimental medications, and has announced Tricare will help cover investigational drugs to treat the coronavirus.
Depending on which Tricare plan you are on, they will cover or partially cover experimental COVID-19 treatments. But in order for them to cover the treatment it must have been given “expanded access” status by the FDA, and it applies to medications disbursed in an FDA-approved setting other than clinical trials.
So far the FDA has approved 6 emergency use authorizations in the fight against the coronavirus. This includes the drug remdesivir.
- With vaccine trial data looking strong (ie. as recently reported by Pfizer), this could open up opportunity for little to no cost vaccines once approved by FDA.
- COVID-19 related bills have already designated vaccines for the disease to fall under preventative health services. This requires private coverage and Medicare to cover 100% of the cost, but Tricare has not been specifically mentioned in legislation yet.
Military.com has reported:
Tricare officials said copayments for these medications will depend on a beneficiary’s Tricare plan, provider and location of care. They did not say whether the medications would be considered “non-formulary,” which require the highest copayments
The United States military has significantly helped with the research and development of convalescent plasma, which is one of the major experimental treatments being touted for COVID-19. They have set out to collect thousands of units of plasma from patients who successfully recovered from the virus, and they are using the antibodies in an attempt to help individuals who contract the illness.
Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, more than 65,000 people affiliated with the Department of Defense have gotten the virus. 2% of those people needed to visit the hospital.