Publix No Longer Will Match Retailers' Generic Drug Discounts

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Generic Drug Discounts

Florida-based Publix Super Markets on Wednesday announced it no longer will match a program by Wal-Mart that offers 30-day supplies of 143 generic drugs for $4 per prescription, the St. Petersburg Times reports. Publix said it now will focus on its antibiotics program (Bora, St. Petersburg Times, 8/9).

Publixon Monday began offering 14-day supplies of seven common, genericantibiotics at no cost to customers with a valid prescription, with nolimit on the number of prescriptions a customer may fill. Thesupermarket chain will offer the no-cost antibiotics at its 684 storesin Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 8/7).

Publixspokesperson Shannon Patten said, "We never had a matching program, butin the spirit of customer service, we did honor the $4 scripts whenasked by customers." Publix's antibiotic program, "initially lauded asa smart marketing move by many, has lost some of its luster in the wakeof Publix's end to its $4 service," according to the Times. Lori Parham, Florida director for AARP,said, "The long-term drugs that people take for chronic conditions maynow be difficult to afford," adding, "Antibiotics are for short-termuse, and there's real concern nationally that people are overusing"them (St. Petersburg Times, 8/9).

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Implications

Dow Joneson Thursday examined the implications of "retailers cutting prices oncommonly prescribed generic drugs available at their stores'pharmacies," particularly antibiotics. Generic drug programs andno-cost antibiotic programs could be most helpful to the uninsured,those with high drug copayments and seniors in the so-called "doughnuthole" of their Medicare prescription drug coverage, Georges Benjamin,executive director of the American Public Health Association, said.

However,Benjamin said retailers should proceed with such programs cautiously,adding that no-cost antibiotic programs could lead to broaderantibiotic resistance. "We're going to send a letter to the FDAand let them know that while these things will improve access, theyneed to be monitored to ensure there aren't any negative side effects,"Benjamin said, adding, "If people's utilization is inappropriate andgrows because it's free ... we do run the risk of increased antibioticresistance."

Gary Claxton, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of the foundation's Health Care Marketplace Project,said, "Doctors are aware of the issues of overprescribing antibiotics."Claxton noted that while discounted drug programs could improve accessto medications, "[y]ou still have to go to the doctor, which costs morethan the prescription" (Gerencher, Dow Jones, 8/9).

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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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