Wal-Mart Generic Prescription Drug Discount Program Indicates Markets Can Provide Medications at Affordable Prices, Opinion Piece Says
The generic prescription drug discount program introduced earlier this year by Wal-Mart Stores indicates that "markets are, in fact, capable of providing medicines at affordable prices," Peter Pitts, director of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former associate commissioner at FDA, writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece (Pitts, Baltimore Sun, 11/22).
Wal-Mart in September announced that the program -- under which some company pharmacies sell 30-day prescriptions of certain generic medications for $4 -- initially would 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. Since September, Wal-Mart expanded the program statewide in Florida and to 37 additional states (California Healthline, 11/16).
Pitts writes, "Wal-Mart's customers, the company reports, are enjoying extraordinary discounts on medications ranging from antibiotics to antipsychotics," while "Wal-Mart's competitors aren't allowing it to corner the market" and have announced similar programs.
According to Pitts, the "genius of competitive markets, for medicine and everything else, is that they allow individuals to decide what they need" and that they "operate on the assumption that one size doesn't fit all." He writes, "In a country with enough disposable income to pay for a double soy peppermint frappuccino, we're right to expect a medicine for every malady."
Pitts concludes, "The market can satisfy the demand for affordable drugs," and "Wal-Mart and its competitors are proving it" (Baltimore Sun, 11/22).