Wal-Mart is the 800-pound gorilla in the retail industry. So, it’s announcement last week that it would cut the price for some generic drugs to $4 per prescription understandably sent tremors through competitors. But for consumers, particularly for people who are uninsured or rely on Medicare, it could make their medicines a little more affordable.
Critics, such as the union-backed group Wake Up Wal-Mart, contend the pharmacy plan is an attempt to divert attention from its woeful record on providing health care to its workers.
Wal-Mart recently extended coverage to the children of part-time workers and introduced a lower-premium plan. Yet, the Wake Up Wal-Mart organization said about 46 percent of its workers still cannot afford the company’s health insurance because of high deductibles. Wal-Mart should do more to cover its workers while it is bringing down prescription costs generally.
The world’s largest retailer can afford it. Wal-Mart still will make money on each cut-rate, generic drug sold and could draw more customers to increase its overall prescripton-drug sales. The 90 or so generic drugs on Wal-Mart’s list — sold in variations that total about 300 combinations — typically wholesale for $2 to $10 per 100 pills. So, $4 for 30 pills, while less expensive even for those fortunate enough to have a prescription-drug plan, still is well above the break-even point for Wal-Mart.
It’s not only that Wal-Mart is dropping a few generic drug prices, but it could pressure other pharmacy chains, such as Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS, to drop their prices. Target already has announced it would waltz with Wal-Mart down this path step for step in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area where Wal-Mart is rolling out this program.
That’s what competitors accustomed to huge markups on drugs fear. But Americans are long overdue for a price cut on prescription medicines. Drug prices in America often are set beyond the means of a lot of seniors and uninsured families.
Wal-Mart’s $4 prescription for 30 pills might only lower the average consumer’s drug bill by a few dollars per order. Yet, as 75-year-old Robert Schorr of Cherry Hill told the Courier-Post last week, every little bit helps.
Please fill out this form to submit your Letter to the Editor. ALL fields are required, else we won’t be able to publish your letter. Letters should be 250 words or less and are subject to editing.
Under 1313-17 18-34 35-49 50-64 65 and Older The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires us to ask your age. If you have any questions about COPPA, see our Terms of Service .