Reaction to Expansion of Wal-Mart Generic Rx Discount Program Mixed
The expansion of a Wal-Mart Stores generic prescription drug discount program to 12 additional states on Thursday "will likely provide price relief for the uninsured, a quick surge in sales and matching deals from other large retailers" in those areas, the Baltimore Sun reports (Salganik, Baltimore Sun, 10/27).
Wal-Mart last month announced that the program -- under which some company pharmacies would sell 30-day prescriptions of certain generic medications for $4 -- would initially include 65 Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Neighborhood Market pharmacies in the Tampa, Fla., area and would expand statewide in early 2007 and possibly to other states in the future. This month, Wal-Mart has expanded the program statewide in Florida and to 26 additional states (California Healthline, 10/26).
According to Wal-Mart, the program, which includes 143 different generic medications in a total of 314 dosages, represents almost one-fourth of all prescriptions sold in pharmacies nationwide. However, a list of the 20 most commonly prescribed medications prepared by IMS Health includes only two of the generic treatments offered through the program (Feldstein, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/27).
CMS spokesperson Julie Bookhart said that the program is "good news for seniors" and "shows that competition is a good thing" (Karash, Kansas City Star, 10/27).
Officials for the American Pharmacists Association said that the group supports more affordable medications but cautioned patients to consult their physicians before they switch to generic treatments included in the program(Mui/Wiggins, Washington Post, 10/27).
Charlie Sewell, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association, said that Wal-Mart is "misleading patients into thinking they're going to get cheap drugs" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/27).