Wal-Mart expands $4 generic prescription program
October 26, 2006
Missouri and Kansas are now part of a $4 generic prescription program initially launched by the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Tampa, FL on September 26, 2006. The announcement by Wal-Mart includes availability in a total of an additional 1,008 stores in 12 additional states. They include Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia. The program, launched in 1,499 pharmacies in 15 states during the past month, was originally slated to launch in as many states as possible outside of Florida as early as January 2007, but customer demand, according to a Wal-Mart announcement, led the company to accelerate the launch.

“No American should have to cut pills in half, decide between taking medicine and putting food on the table, or go without medicines altogether,” said Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott. “We are very proud to be leading this effort to make sure our nation’s seniors, working families and uninsured get the medications they need at a price they can afford.”

The $4 generics program includes 314 generic prescriptions made up of as many as 143 compounds in 24 therapeutic categories available for up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages, and according to rxlist.com, represents 14 of the top 20 prescribed medications in the United States. Wal-Mart estimates that its list of $4 generic prescriptions represents more than 25 percent of prescriptions currently dispensed in its pharmacies nationwide. Some of the top-branded medications covered by generic counterparts under the program are : Glucophage (diabetes), Tenormin (high blood pressure), Prinivil (ACE inhibitor), Zestril (ACE inhibitor), Synthroid (thyroid), Lasix (diuretic), and Lovastatin (statin) with Wal-Mart continuing to work to expand the list.

Bill Simon, executive vice president of Wal-Mart’s Professional Services Division, said customer savings on top-selling prescription medications in the program are projected to be significant. He said that Wal-Mart will continue to push for expansion to other states as quickly as possible.

“Our goal is to respond to customer demand, but to do so in a way that doesn’t hamper our ability to serve our customers,” he said. “We are listening to our pharmacists and looking at our supply chain management and in-store operations, so that we can figure out how we can continue to make this program available to as many customers as possible without jeopardizing our business or the relationship between our customers and our pharmacists.”

The prescription medicines included in the program represent many of the most commonly prescribed generic medications in a wide range of therapeutic categories. Generics contain the same high quality active ingredients as their “brand-name” counterparts and are equally effective but cost significantly less.

Consumers interested in saving money on prescriptions through the program should ask their doctor if a generic is available for their prescription and is right for them. At this time, the $4 prescriptions are not available by mail order, but are available on-line or by telephone for refills only for in-person pickup in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

Especially important to the more than 720,000 Medicare recipients in Missouri, the $4 prescription program will help alleviate a major challege for those who have fallen into the coverage gap in their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans otherwise know as the "doughnut hole." Those seniors have found themselves responsible for paying 100 percent of their prescription drug costs between $2250 and $5100--high drug costs made possible by the federal government's lack of a ceiling in the drug plan.

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt says, “This is an innovative program with the potential to expand access to health care as well as decrease costs of health care services. The program will also help Missouri reduce the escalating costs of pharmacy services for Medicaid recipients. We recognize the important role pharmacists play as part of a health care team and continue to encourage coordination of care through Medicaid transformation.”

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