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Wal-Mart rolls back price of generic drugs

Wal-Mart unveiled Thursday that it is expanding its current $4 prescription drug program to 14 additional states, including Indiana.
The program was expected to be expanded to as many states beginning in 2007, but customer demand led to an early launch. The program is currently being offered at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Corydon.
The new program is not intimidating family owned Butts Drugs on Chestnut Street in Corydon.
Katie Butt Beckort, co-owner and store manager, said the pharmacy has not had anyone ask about the program, but she is sure someone will.
‘One of the things we know is we’re going to continue our customer service,’ Beckort said.
Beckort also said the customer service that her store provides to all customers should supersede Wal-Mart’s marketing ploy.
‘They’re focusing on cash customers only,’ Beckort said.
Beckort said people must also consider that some prescriptions are covered by insurance plans.
‘Insurance charges less than $4 in some cases,’ Beckort said, while stressing that all insurance companies’ prescription drug plans are different.
Wal-Mart’s program offers up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages of different generic drugs for $4. The list of 314 generic prescriptions is made up of as many as 143 compounds in 24 therapeutic categories, ranging from heart and diabetes medications to antibiotics.
Wal-Mart said in a press release that the goal of the program was to bring affordable medications to their customers. Currently, more than 800,000 Hoosiers are without health care in Indiana.
‘This program is making a real difference in the health of our customers and our communities,’ said Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott in a statement.
Calls to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Corydon were directed to Wal-Mart’s corporate Media Center, and questions went unanswered.
Not everyone is thrilled with Wal-Mart’s new plan to offer ‘everyday low prices’ for generic drugs.
In a statement released by the National Community of Pharmacists Association, the NCPA said of the more than 11,000 drugs listed by the Food and Drug Administration, the Wal-Mart program covers about 300.
‘If you look at the list of medications they are offering for $4, it represents about one percent of the total number of drugs available,’ Bruce Roberts, NCPA executive vice president and CEO, said in the statement.
‘The question people should be asking Wal-Mart is, ‘What will you be charging for the other 99 percent of the medications that people need?’ ‘
The NCPA said of the drugs Wal-Mart offers, fewer than 150 separate medications are listed. For example, 12 generic versions of the antibiotic amoxicillin are included on the list.
They also said many older medications are on the list, and newer, replacement medications that often work better and have few side effects are not included on the list.
‘Community pharmacists are in the health-care business and provide value to patients no matter what medications they are taking,’ Roberts said.
‘We are concerned that patients will be both misled and disappointed by the limited number of medicines in this new program.’
The NCPA, founded in 1898, represents the nation’s community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 24,000 pharmacies across the United States.
Wal-Mart seems unfazed by the association’s comments, and the program, which was launched in 235 Florida pharmacies on Oct. 6, will now be offered in 1,264 stores in Indiana and throughout Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.
A list of the available medications can be picked up at any Wal-Mart pharmacy. Wal-Mart recommends that any consumer wanting to save money on their prescriptions should ask their doctor if a generic form is available for their prescriptions, and if that generic would be right for them.

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