Wegmans Food To Offer No-Cost Generic Antibiotics Through March

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Wegmans Food Markets starting on Wednesday will fill generic oral antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and cephalexin, at no cost through March 31, the Baltimore Sun reports (Walker, Baltimore Sun, 1/7).

The program will run at all of the chain's 72 stores nationwide and will cover up to a 14-day supply of nine generic antibiotics that otherwise would cost between $8.99 and $13.99 without insurance. Colleen Wegman, president of Wegmans, said the company might offer the benefits permanently if the program is successful over the next three months. Wegman estimated that the program would save consumers about $1 million (Wang, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/7). Giant Food stores and stores of its sister chain Stop & Shop last week began offering no-cost generic antibiotics to customers with prescriptions for three months (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 1/5).

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However, some physicians are concerned that no-cost antibiotics could encourage excessive use of the drugs. Thomas Campbell, Highland Family Medicine physician and chair of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said patients might pressure their physicians to prescribe antibiotics after learning of the program. According to Campbell, antibiotics already are over-prescribed for upper respiratory and other infections and can cause rashes, fungal infections or life-threatening allergies.

In addition, outbreaks of drug resistant bacterial infections such as MRSA are linked to overprescribed antibiotics. "While I think the intent to save people money is laudable, I think Wegmans chose the wrong class of medications to offer for free," Campbell said (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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