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VA and DOD Collaborations in Pharmaceuticals

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) naturally find many paths to collaborate through both formal and informal channels. Both Agencies are focused on optimizing cost-effectiveness and accelerating innovation. These multifaceted collaborations encompassing various aspects of pharmaceutical management and maximizing the full buying power of the Federal Government by focusing on one of their largest budget line items – the purchase and management of pharmaceuticals – include:

  • Research Programs: The VA and DoD work together on research projects, including clinical trials, for new and existing medications that are relevant to both Veterans and active service members. By leveraging their combined resources and expertise, they are able to accelerate advancements in areas like combat-related injuries. For example, investigators from both the VA and DoD are participating in evaluating the efficacy of combination therapy for traumatic brain injury (TBI).

  • Data: The VA and DoD share information through the VA’s Health Information Exchange (HIE). The HIE allows providers in both systems to access a patient’s complete medical history if they have been seen at a participating facility in the other system. This bidirectional sharing of electronic health records (EHRs) between the VA and DoD improves patient care.

  • Procurement: The VA and DoD leverage their combined buying power to negotiate bulk discounts on common pharmaceuticals with manufacturers through DoD’s frequent participation in the VA-issued National Contracts. This collaboration ensures both agencies have access to more affordable medications.

  • Training: Workshops bring together pharmacists from military and VA settings to a single event. Whether sponsored directly by the Agency or through a third-party, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), these events promulgate knowledge of best practices and approaches to patient care. ` 

  • Committees: Senior pharmacy leaders from both Agencies come together with other healthcare-focused Executive Agencies to share best practices, identify opportunities for aligning policies, and discuss initiatives impacting pharmacy services. One example is the Federal Pharmacy Executive Steering Committee (FPESC).

For manufacturers, these partnerships highlight the interconnectivity that can exist between the top two largest Federal purchasers of pharmaceuticals. It emphasizes the need for a manufacturer to understand previous policy and formulary placement analogs as well as the points of influence between the Agencies that led to final decisions for competitor products.


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