Wal-Mart Stores To Expand Generic Prescription Drug Program Earlier Than Expected
Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday announced that the statewide expansion of a pilot program in Florida under which some company pharmacies will sell 30-day prescriptions of some generic medications for $4 will occur on Friday, three months earlier than expected, the Orlando Sentinel reports (Chediak, Orlando Sentinel, 10/6).
Last month, Wal-Mart announced that the program 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 (California Healthline, 9/22). Wal-Mart officials said that decided to expand the program statewide early because of strong customer response (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 10/6).
Bill Simon, executive vice president of the Wal-Mart professional services division, said that customers filled 36,000 new prescriptions at company pharmacies in the Tampa area during the first 10 days of the program (Teitelbaum, CQ HealthBeat, 10/5). Simon added, "I would expect that we would be in most of the U.S." with the program this year.
In addition to the statewide expansion, Wal-Mart announced that the number of generic medications included in the program will increase to 143 from about 125 and that the number of different dosages and forms of the treatments included will increase to 314 from 291 (Majors, AP/Arizona Daily Star, 10/6). "We will continue to look at opportunities to expand that list," Simon said (Orlando Sentinel, 10/6).
Target on Thursday announced that company pharmacies in Florida will match Wal-Mart prices for generic medications (Reuters/New York Daily News, 10/6). However, Walgreen and CVS pharmacies in Florida will not match Wal-Mart prices for generic medications, the companies said (Orlando Sentinel, 10/6).
Michael Polzin, a spokesperson for Walgreen, said that the Wal-Mart program "really isn't going to save much" for customers, adding that "we don't see it having a significant impact on our patients" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 10/6).
Bruce Roberts, vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said, "If you look at the list of medications they are offering for $4, it represents about 1% of the total number of drugs available." Roberts added, "The question people should be asking Wal-Mart is, 'What will you be charging for the other 99% of the medications that people need?'" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/5).
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in a Wal-Mart press release said, "This program empowers our people to talk to their doctors about accessing these more affordable medications, which can lead to higher compliance rates and better health" (Roberts, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/6).
Paul Doering, co-director of the Drug Information and Pharmacy Resource Center at the University of Florida, said, "I think it will be a great advantage for those who don't have a prescription plan, or (a) sub-optimal prescription plan" (Orlando Sentinel, 10/6).
Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the foundation, said, "Generics are not very expensive in the first place," adding, "It's a good thing to make generic drugs cheaper, but that isn't where most of the big costs are" (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 10/6).