With the announcement, the expanded $4 generic prescription program will now be available in an additional 811 stores throughout California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Though it kicked off the program in Florida in September, with intentions to spread outside the state in January 2007, Wal-Mart said customer demand led it to accelerate the rollout of the program – now available in all of its 3,810 pharmacies.
“When we made our initial announcement in Florida back in September, we never imagined that in addition to our 3,800 pharmacies, thousands of others would join us in bringing more affordable medicines to our nation’s seniors, working families and the uninsured. We are proud to have introduced competition to an area where it has been too scarce for too long,” said Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott. “And, we hope others will continue to join us in making prescription medicines more affordable and accessible for all Americans.”
With the announcement, Wal-Mart has expanded the program to include 331 generic prescriptions available for up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages. The list is made up of as many as 143 compounds in 26 therapeutic categories. According to www.rxlist.com, the list also includes 14 of the top 20 prescribed medications in the United States.
Response to the program has been considerable. Between September 21 and November 12, as the first 27 states were added to the program, 2.1 million more new prescriptions were filled in those states as compared to the same time periods last year. Generic medicines generally cost between 30 percent and 60 percent less than equivalent brand-name products, and Wal-Mart estimates that its list of $4 generic prescriptions represents more than 25 percent of prescriptions currently dispensed in its pharmacies nationwide.
Bill Simon, executive vice president of Wal-Mart’s Professional Services Division, said the customer response has been significant. He said that he has heard hundreds of stories from customers and pharmacists about the program’s value. He also noted that many customers have greatly benefited from the savings and consumer demand has been a significant factor in the program’s expansion.
“This program has had a positive impact on millions of Americans. We have received hundreds of letters and e-mails from customers over the last few months telling us how this program has changed their lives,” said Simon. “There are so many folks out there who are living on limited budgets and have paid too much for their medicines for too long. Their stories drove us to expand this program as quickly as possible, and it drove our competitors to meet our $4 price. This program is good for customers, our communities and our healthcare system.”
Simon said that certain generic drugs in the program are priced higher than $4 in some states due to state law and customers in those states should see their Wal-Mart pharmacist or walmart.com/pharmacy for details starting Tuesday, Nov. 28. He also noted that the program is not available in North Dakota because the company does not operate its own pharmacies in the state. Wal-Mart leases space to pharmacies in North Dakota, he explained.
Savings on top-selling prescription medications in the program are projected to be significant. For specific medications, the company estimates the following approximate savings to Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Club customers and members in the 38 states that were announced prior to today’s announcement, based on September average retail prices from www.myfloridarx.com:
- Metformin (500 mg), a diabetes medication: about $1.3 million monthly and $16 million annually on this medication.
- Warfarin (5 mg), a medication to prevent blood clots: about $750,000 monthly and $9 million annually on this medication.
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 online or by telephone for refills only for in-person pickup in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. For further information on the program, including store locations, customers can call 1-800-WAL-MART, go to www.walmart.com, or visit their Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market or Sam’s Club in participating states to discuss the program with their pharmacist or pick up a brochure explaining program details.
In addition to offering the $4 generics program in 49 states, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Neighborhood Market pharmacies offer multiple benefits to consumers. With its proprietary interactive computer system, Wal-Mart speeds up workflow and accuracy in product distribution, allowing pharmacists to spend more time with customers.
The company also designates one pharmacy associate per store to be a Medicare Part D expert, who, in conjunction with its in-store informational kiosks, helps customers understand both the enrollment process and the benefits to which they are entitled. These systems have enabled the
retailer to help enroll 1,080,000 people for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, as of October 26, 2006. Wal-Mart pharmacies’ sophisticated coordination of benefits services enables it to process up to four payors for Medicare beneficiaries and up to three payors for non-Medicare beneficiaries, leading to less reimbursement hassle and paperwork for customers.
Wal-Mart has revolutionized the packaging of pharmaceuticals by offering safer, user-friendly blister packs that contain individual periodic doses of medications, along with details and easy-to-understand instructions for consumers. In addition, Wal-Mart offers low pricing on over-the-counter cough, cold and fever medications. The company estimates its customers will save approximately $20 million on cough, cold and fever medications this cold and flu season.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUB locations in the United States. The company also operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. The company’s securities are listed on the New York and NYSE Area stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com.