Common Questions about the VA National Formulary - VA Palo Alto Health Care System
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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


Common Questions about the VA National Formulary

The VA National Formulary: Test what you know

1. True/False: The VA has a national list of medicines that can be prescribed by your VA provider.

2. True/False: The VA National Formulary is searchable on online.

3. True/False: Preferred medicines on the formulary may change when new information becomes available.

Check your Answers:
1. True: The VA National Formulary ensures that Veterans have equal access to medicines regardless of geographic location. The formulary is based on safety and effectiveness data as well as cost. (see: What is the VA formulary)
2. True: The VA National Formulary is available to search online or through the VA Ask Your Pharmacist App.
3. True: Medicines on the formulary may change when new safety, effectiveness or cost data become available. The VA’s goal is to ensure that you have access to safe and effective medicines.

What is the VA Formulary?

A VA formulary is a list of medicines that are available for your medical conditions. These medicines are available at all VA facilities. Medicines not on the VA National Formulary are considered non-formulary medicines. Your VA provider can submit special request for a non-formulary medicine.

How do I search the VA National Formulary?

The VA National Formulary is available to search online on the Pharmacy Benefits Management page or through the Ask a Pharmacist mobile application. Medicines are listed by generic name, as several brand names may exist or become available in the future for the same generic medicine. There are local restrictions and conditions that are not shown on the VA Formulary Search.

What if I need a non-formulary medicine?

Your provider knows that there are many different medicines that can treat medical conditions and will first discuss with you whether a VA formulary medication would work just as well.

If you are unable to take a medication on the VA National Formulary due to allergies or other reasons, your VA provider will request the non-formulary medicine by a special process. These requests may take up to four days to review.

Why did my medicine change?

1. Medicines continue to be studied after they are approved. Changes in VA National Formulary may occur after review of new safety or effectiveness information. This review ensures that you receive the best-value and highest quality care.
2. Many medicines are similar. To save money, VA may prefer one medicine over another. This may require a change in your medicine. When these changes occur, the pharmacy sends you an information letter.
3. Your VA provider may choose not to write the same medicine as a private provider and may select a VA Formulary alternative.


A VA Palo Alto Health Care System pharmacist is available to discuss your medications with you:

Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
excluding holidays

Please call (800) 311-2511 and follow the prompts to speak with a pharmacist.