Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE: WMT) announced that starting today, it is rolling out its $4 generic prescription program in 11 additional states and adding 17 more prescriptions to the program. With the announcement, the expanded $4 generic prescription program will now be available in an additional 502 stores throughout Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.
The program kicked off in Florida in September, with plans to spread outside the state in January 2007. However, customer demand led Wal-Mart to accelerate the rollout of the program, which is now available in 3,009 pharmacies in 38 states.
?We?ve received an amazing amount of positive feedback from the millions of seniors, working families and uninsured who are already taking advantage of this program,? said Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott. ?We?ve added more medicines to our program so we can extend these significant savings to even more Americans. No one should be denied access to the medications they need, and this program is a big step in moving our customers and communities toward access to affordable medicines.?
In making the announcement, Bill Simon, executive vice president of Wal-Mart?s Professional Services Division, said that the $4 generics program now includes 331 generic prescriptions available for up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages. According to www.rxlist.com, the list also includes 14 of the top 20 prescribed medications in the United States. The list is made up of as many as 143 compounds in 26 therapeutic categories.
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. To date, as new states have been added to the program, 2.1 million more new prescriptions have been filled in those states as compared to the same time periods last year.
Simon 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.
?One of our Dallas-area pharmacists told me about a Hurricane Katrina evacuee who needed two medications costing $155 a month,? Simon said. ?But with his benefits exhausted, no insurance, and no steady work, all he could get was $25 from a charity to help defray the costs. When our pharmacist discovered that one of his medications was already covered by the $4 program, he worked with the doctor to switch his other cholesterol medication to a $4 alternative. This man went from not being able to afford his medications to having $17 left over, which he used to buy diapers and some staple groceries. Our pharmacist wrote, ?That doesn?t sound like a great deal of money, but let me tell you, to someone that has mouths to feed and is worried about not getting their medication, it?s huge!? This is just one of many instances that show me how we are changing peoples? lives for the better.?
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 in the program, 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.
Simon said that Wal-Mart will continue to push for expansion to other states as quickly as possible. ?We?re moving this forward as quickly as possible, but we need to do it in a way that doesn?t hamper our ability to serve our customers,? he said.
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, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. 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 the 38 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 38 states, Wal-Mart and Sam?s Club 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. In fact, 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.