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

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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).

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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).

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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.

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