Wal-Mart To Launch Generic Drug Discount Program
Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday plans to announce a program under which some store pharmacies will sell employees and customers generic medications at reduced prices, the New York Times reports.
According to sources familiar with the program who spoke on condition of anonymity, Wal-Mart plans to sell generic versions of about 300 popular medications at prices as low as $4 for 30-day prescriptions. Thirty-day prescriptions of generic medications cost an average of $10 to $30.
Wal-Mart plans to test the program in store pharmacies in the Tampa, Fla., area and later might expand the program statewide and nationwide, according to the anonymous sources.
A Wal-Mart spokesperson declined to comment on the program.
The program "appears to mark the first time that Wal-Mart has used its unrivaled influence in the American economy to lower the cost of health care for its customers," although "exactly how Wal-Mart obtained the lower prices" for generic medications remains undetermined, the Times reports (Barbaro, New York Times, 9/21).
According to the Wall Street Journal, the program might improve the Wal-Mart pharmacy business, which has "stagnated recently," with revenue of about $19.94 billion in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, compared with $20.61 billion in the previous fiscal year. In addition, because of the "sheer size" of Wal-Mart, the program might "affect the pricing of existing and new generics coming to market" and might prompt other pharmacies to sell generic medications at reduced prices, the Journal reports (McWilliams, Wall Street Journal, 9/21).
The program also might "blunt criticism" that Wal-Mart has received about health insurance for employees, the Times reports (New York Times, 9/21).