Wal-Mart: Generic Prescription Drugs For $4

Wal-mart has a new program that offers certain generic prescription drugs for only $4, with or without insurance. Available in-store only, no mail orders. I don’t know much about drugs, but that sounds pretty cheap to me. From their press release:

The $4 generics program includes 314 generic prescriptions available for up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages. According to www.rxlist.com, the list also represents 14 of the top 20 prescribed medications in the United States.

The 27 participating states currently are: AK, AL, AR, AZ, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, SD, TX, VA, VT.

Alternatively, there is also the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Program from those Montel Williams TV commercials:

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance brings together America’s pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other health care providers, patient advocacy organizations and community groups to help qualifying patients who lack prescription coverage get the medicines they need through the public or private program that’s right for them. Many will get them free or nearly free.

You fill out a questionnaire and it tells you if you are eligible for any of the discount programs.

Finally, you save money by getting double-dosage tablets and cutting them in half, as promoted by UnitedHealthcare. Link via Fatwallet.

Comments

  1. There is some trickery with Wal-Marts media blitz on the $4 generic prescriptions that I would like you to be aware. First it is based on Wal-Mart’s definition of 30 day supply. For those of you who take tramadol (Ultram ™) chronically, a popular pain medication that is on the $4 list, what is a thirty day supply to you? #120 to 150? That is only 4 to 5 tablets a day and you can take up to 8/day as per FDA upper dosing limits. Anyway, Wal-Mart says you can get #30 for the $4 copay. Ibuprofen 800mg? #30 for $4 again average rx is 3-4x/day.

    2nd, the 314 drugs listed are multiple strenghs of the same drug. i.e. levothyroxine is listed 10 times b/c of the different strengths, same with amoxicillin.

    I think you just need to go in with your eyes open and still shop around. At Costco you can get #100 Atenolol 25 mg for something like $5.69 http://www.costco.com/Pharmacy Wal Mart wants to charge you $4 for #30, even if WM would let you buy multiples of #30 in the same day, #90 is already $12, double Costco’s price and you don’t even need a membership to get Rx’s at Costco.

    Sorry for the rant, but it is frustrating to see Wal-Mart play the media game to make it “look like” they are helping people out when in reality they are just trying to catch up to others who don’t ream their customers (Costco). WM should focus on giving their own employees better medical coverage.

  2. Ed,

    Retail stores have difficulty providing better medical coverage for workers. Walmart has 1.8 million employees (source: Yahoo financials). Assuming that they were to provide very good coverage to their employees at a cost of $500 a month (like other medium sized companies), that would mean $900,000,000 ($900 million) dollars per month. This does not make any business sense. But of course I do agree that they definately can do a little better.

  3. I think its a good thing no matter what their motives are. If a gigantic corporation can sell drugs cheaper its better for consumers. This may spark a low price drug war.

    The way I read it was 30 days at commonly prescribed dosages. Are they referring to dosage as the size of medicine in the pill or the frequency of the injestion? I would guess if your doc writes 4 per day at 100mg and 100mg is a “walmart commonly prescribed dosage” you are OK. I guess we’ll see.

    Either way, there is no way walmart is going to please everone and I think this will help more people than it will inconvenience.

    As always, if you don’t like the way they crush competitors, drive mom and pops out of business, take all our money and spend it in China, treat it workers like crap or otherwise act like a corporation only trying to make your money leave your pocket quicker & easier then just don’t shop there.

    I think the only game they are playing is the game of getting bodies in their supercenters. Maybe while you’re there you will buy a new TV or clothes or one of their 4,000,000,000 other goods.

  4. I’ve used costco in the past, but one thing is their location isn’t that close to my house, compared to having walmart much closer. I also think it’s nice to have a lot of drugs at one price, so say I need antibiotics I can ask my doctor to recommend something on the list.

    CEPHALEXIN 500 MG CAPSULE Walmart 4 dollars
    CEPHALEXIN 500MG CAP Coscto $6.89

    Walmart one that round

    For people who use HSA I think walmart’s 4 dollars is a great deal.

  5. Thanks for the info on supplies. I agree in that this isn’t a humanitarian move, just like I don’t see Citibank offering 0% APR or 99 cent milk at Safeway as a humanitarian move. It’s a discount on a product to boost current or future profits, like any other.

    Good tip about getting prescriptions at Costco without a membership, though. Although I’m sure Walmarts are probably easier to access for many people, as Jbo mentioned.

  6. Hey guys – It’s a great start. $4 for a perscription is a good start to fixing some of the problems with our medical system in the U.S.

    Oh yeah, let’s get rid of the lawsuits too. That would go a long way.

    - Bryan

  7. Unfortunately, many of the $4 drugs on that list are formulations that have been around for a very long time, available as generics, and not often prescribed becuase there are other options that carry less risk of toxicity and unpleasant side effects.

  8. I realize that increasing medical insurance would not be cheap, but if Wal-Mart increased prices by 1 cent on every product and devoted it entirely to medical benefits Wal-Mart employees would have the best coverage around.

    The commonly prescribed dosage for 30 days is subjective. I would think that the majority of people who read this blog have probably been prescribed Ibuprofen 800mg. It is not commonly prescribed at 1 per day, it is 3 or 4 times per day, yet WM says #30 is their $4 price.

    While WM says $4 for Cephalexin 500mg, their quantity is #28 for that price while Costco’s is #30, granted the extra 2 capsules isn’t worth the $2.89, but it needs to be compared across the board.

    What it boils down to is that prices are going to be raised somewhere else, b/c it costs $7 on average to fill a prescription that doesn’t include the cost of the drug. Once you add in labor, vials, lids, labels, inventory sitting on shelf, insurance, electricity, floor space, high speed connections for billing, etc. etc., it costs $7. Even if your 1950′s generic med is $.05, you have to charge $7.05 just to break even. Where do you think the other $3+ per script is going to come from?

    Good luck and just make sure you compare prices and especially look at buying 90+ days supply, that should save the most.

  9. I love loss leaders :)

  10. This sounds like a good idea, but my sister’s roommate just lost her uncle due to a Wal-Mart pharmacy. Apparently, they gave him a blood thinning medicine at a 5.0 dose when his prescription was for 0.5. I’m sure his family will make millions, but money is no substitute for a loved one. Remember, in most cases you get what you pay for.

  11. Thanks for the info on Costco. I also found the $7.05 to fill a prescription interesting. I’d like to know how much of this is red tape cost thanks to the government and how much is due to lawsuits. Everyone makes mistakes, and even though it’s sad and upsetting to lose a loved one to a mistake, the millions obtained through lawsuit go mostly to the lawyers and the government (33% plus expenses for the lawyers, 28+% to the government – many people actually come out in debt, not “compensated”). I think instead of trying to limit a person’s right to sue, we should limit the lawyer fees to 20% of the award with NO money for expenses. That’d drop the number of lawsuits in a heartbeat.

    On one hand, I hate Walmart because I think it contributes to poverty in this country. On the other, I love it because it’s the cheapest place to go (usually) and the poor need lower prices. For myself, I make a good income but even so struggle with insurance co-pays. I have only one medication on this list and will probably obtain a prescription for it just to get it at $4. Other medications I take when I am ill and those scripts will also go to Walmart.

    As a healthcare professional, I am glad to see that the list covers many diabetic and HTN meds. Too many times I have seen diabetics in the hospital because they couldn’t afford their meds. Maybe at $4 they can. Maybe they’ll still spend that $4 on ciggarettes rather than meds.

    Walgreens says it is competitively priced, especially for people with insurance who “just” have to pay a co-pay. News flash guys – some of us have trouble with the copay!

    What I’d really like to see is a site that allows you to shop around for drug prices without going to a bunch of different sites and entering the same info a bunch of different times.

  12. I just filled a prescription Ibuf. 800mg 30 tablets on feb 15, 2007 the generic form at walmat cost me $8.00 instead of the $4? I asked why and he the pharmarcist said because I did not have insurance. Opps delete that I just looked at the receipt and it says 60 tablets instead of 30. There mistake oh well I got a longer supply. I think the program is a great start.

  13. BurgerAL says:

    Wal-Mart’s prices are among the best around. Sorry to disagree with you, Ed, but the generics for $4 beats the $17 I spent for #30 Amoxicillin 500mg at CVS. It’s always good money management to compare prices, but by and large, this is a terrific deal. Also, please understand that factoring in the ever rising cost of gasoline, a trip to the nearest CostCo or other cut-rate pharmacy can more than cancel the savings you described..

  14. Evelyn Boudreaux says:

    The $4.00 is for a 30 day month’s supply.Now if you take 2 tabs. a day they give you 60 tabs.This is for a month.

  15. i have epilepsy and take 1600mgs of medication a day. 4- 100 mgs of dilantin and 2-600 mgs of deurontin. it cost almost $200 a month and that is GENERIC. I ALSO GET IT AT WAL-MART. i have e-mailed the board several times, WAL-MART does not carry any kind of anti-epileptic medication on the $4 list, which makes no sense, if they are truly trying to help the public, then why do they not try to reach all the public. EPILEPSY, is a very common disability, so is headaches, which is more expensive, EPILEPSY, i can buy advil over the counter, NOT EPILEPSY MEDICATION, so how are they helping me, they are not. i have 3 kids to take care, don’t just think about the person, think about the family,with deadbeat parents, and a town that doesn’t do anything, i try my hardest, and to me and my family it is our best. my kids come first.

  16. I have been having problems since taking Wal-Mart’s generic for Estratest. Just wondering if anyone else has? I heard that some of Wal-Mart’s generics will be manufactured in China!

    I have been having slight nausea in the morning, breast pain and tenderness, fatigue and low enjoyment. I plan to switch back to the name brand.

  17. WalMart isn’t the only option for cheap drugs…

    A few more, including Target, CVS, Food City, Walgreen’s, etc;

    Alternatives to the WalMart $4 generic meds

  18. I think it is a great idea that they are providing such low cost prescriptions and I don’t see why people would complain when it costs a heck of a lot more to pay out of pocket when you don’t have insurance. I think the only people that would sit there and complain about walmart not considering how many pain pills they pop a day are being ridiculous. Stop being so dependent ;]

  19. walmart prices have been increasing since usa currency has decreased and the china labors have been increasing. you guys know 95% walmart products are from china. Therefore costs of walmart stuffs have been higher than other retail stores. As soon as our usa currency is equal or little higher than china than there is no way walmart can beat our usa products because we don’t see anything from china anymore. please don’t shop walmart. i love to see it one day.

  20. Seriously?
    Here’s actual facts. Five years ago the dollar was equal to about 7.5 Yuan.
    Today, it’s worth about 6.5 Yuan. The Yuan has improved world-wide while the dollar has dropped, and still the comparison is only 15% lower than 5 years ago.

    Second, Walmart sells MOSTLY NAME BRAND items. They are purchased from the American distributors who market them. Whether those companies have components generated within the global market or not has nothing to do with Walmart preference.

    Let’s leave the political nonsense out of the forum, and get back on topic shall we?

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