What Does Wal-Mart’s Prescription Drug Plan Mean?

Retailing giant Wal-Mart announced a new program that will offer consumers $4 prescriptions for generic drugs (you can see the full list here: WMT-druglist).

Several commentators have already pooh poohed this as a mere publicity stunt in an election year.

WalGreens and CVS and and other pharmacies have gotten shellacked on
the news — as well they should (Target was relatively unchanged, while
Rite Aid has been a disaster for too long to remember). Wal-Mart
crushed many of the inefficient or simply "less efficient" supermarkets
when they moved into food retailing — I would expect they could have a
similar impact here.

In addition to selling this as a retail loss leader, I wouldn’t be suprised if Wal-Mart rolled out a targeted program for certain corporate health care providers — think either GM or Ford. It would be nice if someohow GM or Ford could lop off a few $100 from the cost of manufacturing each vehicle.

And given Wal-Mart’s heft, this could very easily have a significant impact on the entire health care system in the United States.

The program will be launched tomorrow starting in 65 stores (Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Club pharmacies) in
Tampa Bay, Florida; It will expand statewide  area, and will be expanded to the entire state in January 2007, and expanded nationwide later in the year.

Key components (via WMT’s press release) include:

$4 pricing will be available to
all pharmacy customers with a doctor’s prescription that can be filled via generic.

This program will be available to the uninsured; Insurance will
be accepted.

The program presently covers 291 generic medications from
many of the most common therapeutic categories.

The medicines
represented are used to treat and manage conditions including allergies,
cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes; Some
antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics and prescription vitamins are also
included.

Fascinating stuff . . .

Source:
Wal-Mart Tests in Florida Its $4 Generic-Drug Plan
WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE NEWS ROUNDUP
September 21, 2006 12:49 p.m.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115884220108069974.html

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