BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Oct. 26, 2006 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced that starting today it is rolling out its $4 generic prescription program in 12 additional states. With the announcement, the $4 generic prescription program will be now be available in an additional 1,008 stores throughout Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia. The program, launched in 1,499 pharmacies in 15 states during the past month, was originally slated to launch in as many states as possible outside of Florida as early as January 2007, but customer demand led the company to accelerate the launch.
“No American should have to cut pills in half, decide between taking medicine and putting food on the table, or go without medicines altogether,” said Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott. “We are very proud to be leading this effort to make sure our nation’s seniors, working families and uninsured get the medications they need at a price they can afford.”
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. With 314 generic prescriptions, the list is made up of as many as 143 compounds in 24 therapeutic categories. Generic medicines generally cost between 30 to 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.
In making this announcement, Bill Simon, executive vice president of Wal-Mart’s Professional Services Division, said the customer response has been significant. Within four days of the October 19, 2006 roll-out announcement, more than 152,000 new prescriptions were filled by Wal-Mart pharmacies in all 14 states.
Simon also shared that he has heard hundreds of stories from customers and pharmacists about the program’s value. And, he noted, many customers have been surprised by the savings.
“In Texas, when a woman was told that the prescriptions were $4, she became fearful that one of our associates was trying to be overly kind and help her pay for them. So she said that she could not accept the prescriptions because she did not want the cashier to be fired. When the pharmacist convinced her otherwise, she exclaimed – with tears in her eyes – that she was going out to celebrate by having a Whataburger‘ for supper,” said Simon. “You see, she hadn’t been able to treat herself to this indulgence for nearly a year because money was too tight. We take great pride in knowing that this program is making a real difference in our customers’ lives.”
Simon said customer 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 27 participating states, based on September average retail prices from www.myfloridarx.com:
- Fluoxetine (20 mg), an antidepressant: nearly $1.9 million monthly and $23.2 million annually on this medication.
- Amoxicillin (500 mg), an antibiotic: about $1.3 million monthly and $15.5 million annually on this medication.
Simon said that Wal-Mart will continue to push for expansion to other states as quickly as possible.
“Our goal is to respond to customer demand, but to do so in a way that doesn’t hamper our ability to serve our customers,” he said. “We are listening to our pharmacists and looking at our supply chain management and in-store operations, so that we can figure out how we can continue to make this program available to as many customers as possible without jeopardizing our business or the relationship between our customers and our pharmacists.”
The prescription medicines included in the program represent many of the most commonly prescribed generic medications in a wide range of therapeutic categories. 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 on-line or by telephone for refills only for in-person pickup in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.
In addition to offering the $4 generics program in 27 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 designated “Medicare Part D expert,” which 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. 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.
Through its leadership, 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 it will save its customers approximately $20 million on cough, cold and fever medications this cold and flu season.
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 27 participating states to discuss the program with their pharmacist or pick up a brochure explaining program details.
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, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. The company’s securities are listed on the New York and NYSE Arca stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com.