A military pharmacy is a pharmacy which meets the needs of a military health care system, such as TRICARE in the United States military. Military pharmacies dispense medications to members of the military, their dependents, and military retirees. These pharmacies operate much like civilian pharmacies do, with a few key differences. Civilians with pharmacy training, including fully qualified pharmacists, can be offered signing bonuses, military discounts, and other benefits for joining the military to work in a pharmacy, and people without training who are interested in pharmacy work can receive training after enlistment, if they are qualified and the military needs pharmacy personnel.
Like a civilian pharmacy, a military pharmacy keeps an array of needed medications in stock, sometimes referring to these as “formulary medications.” Medications which are listed in the formulary established by the military must be available at military pharmacies, with many pharmacies using generic drugs whenever possible to save costs. Drugs outside the formulary may or may not be available, depending on the pharmacy in question, and sometimes special arrangements can be made to bring a specific medication to a particular pharmacy.
As a general rule, a military pharmacy operates within the framework of the military health care system. This means that it only accepts prescriptions from military doctors or civilian doctors who have a recognized relationship with the military's health care system. It may be located in a military hospital, on a base, or on board a ship, and personnel are trained both in general pharmacy protocol and in the protocol specific to military pharmacies.
At a military pharmacy, as with civilian pharmacies, prescriptions are filled as promptly as possible, with steps in place to ensure that prescriptions are filled correctly. These steps include checking to confirm that there are no conflicts with medications the patient is taking, confirming the dosage prescribed by the doctor, and keeping conditions clean and organized so that all of the pharmacy staff know where to find things. When a patient requests a consultation, a pharmacist can provide any needed advice and answer questions.
Military pharmacies are designed to operate at a high level of efficiency while offering very high quality care. Medications are usually free or provided with a low co-pay, depending on the nation and the status of the patient. However, sometimes the restrictions in the pharmacy become limiting. For example, patients who need a brand name medication may not be able to access it through the military pharmacy if a generic is available, because the formulary only lists generics.