Wal-Mart Adds 11 Generic Drugs To Discounted Prescription Drug Program

Armen Hareyan's picture

Discounted Prescription Drug Program

Wal-Mart Storeson Thursday announced that it will begin selling eight additionalgeneric drugs for $4 per 30-day prescription and severalfamily-planning drugs for $9, USA Today reports (Appleby, USA Today,9/28). The added medications include treatments for glaucoma, attentiondeficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fungalinfections and acne (Albright, St. Petersburg Times,9/28). In addition, Wal-Mart will offer generic versions of the birthcontrol drugs Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen and a fertility drugfor $9 per 30-day supply.

The discount drug program, whichstarted in September 2006, now will cover 361 prescriptionsrepresenting different formulations of 157 generic drugs (Saul, New York Times, 9/28). The new additions add about 24 prescriptions to the program (Bernstein, Long Island Newsday, 9/28).

Accordingto Wal-Mart Chief Operating Officer Bill Simon, the program has savedcustomers and the U.S. health care system $610 million (New York Times,9/28). Paul London, an economist working with the company, said drugmakers "are going to have to change the way they approach the pricingof brand-name drugs as generics become more available" (USA Today, 9/28).


Other retail chains, including Kmart, Publix and Target, have advertised similar programs (St. Petersburg Times, 9/28). Target officials on Thursday said the company would match Wal-Mart's discounts in all prescriptions categories, the Newark Star-Ledger reports (May, Newark Star-Ledger,9/28). The company said that the $4 program accounts for about 40% ofprescription drug sales at its pharmacies and that the program isprofitable (St. Petersburg Times, 9/28).


Simon said the first year of the program "substantially exceeded ourexpectations," adding, "We will continue to improve and expand thisprescription drug program" (Dorschner, Miami Herald,9/28). According to Simon, the U.S. health care system is "incrediblyinefficient," and Wal-Mart's "core competency is removing inefficiencyfrom a supply chain" (Long Island Newsday, 9/28).

However, the National Community Pharmacists Association has called the discounts a publicity stunt, saying they apply only to a small portion of the 8,700 FDA-approved generic drugs available (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/28).

According to Dan Mendelson of the research firm Avalere Health,the $4 drug program is "more sizzle than steak" because privateinsurers in the Medicare program already offer low-cost or no-costgeneric drugs. Mendelson added that Wal-Mart's program generates goodpublicity and helps uninsured customers, but "it's not health reform" (USA Today, 9/28).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Share this content.

If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.