- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cheap drugs might sell more groceries.

That’s what Safeway officials anticipate when the grocery chain begins filling $4 prescriptions Wednesday at its 115 pharmacies in the Washington area.

“We’re doing it to provide more-affordable drug prescriptions for our customers,” said Greg TenEyck, spokesman for the area’s second-largest grocer.

“With the price of everything going up lately, here’s something going down,” he said.

The program will cover a 30-day supply of about 300 of the most widely prescribed generic medications, including drugs for treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, chronic pain and heart disease.

Safeway said it is the first supermarket pharmacy in the Washington area to offer a $4 program.

Wal-Mart first started selling generic drugs for $4 in 2006, hoping to spur sales of general merchandise from shoppers coming in for the pharmacy deals. Within days, Target and drug store chains followed suit, hoping to hang on to existing customers with $4 drugs or similar plans.

Grocery chains were a bit slower to match the offer. In February, Kroger Co. began selling $4 drugs.

Safeway already offers the program in its Tom Thumb and Randall’s stores in Dallas and Houston and is expanding the program Wednesday to its Genuardi’s stores in Philadelphia, Dominick’s stores in Chicago and Safeway stores in the Washington and Baltimore areas.

Grocery chains in other regions said similar drug programs are attracting new customers and boosting sales.

Pharmacies in Publix supermarkets offer eight drugs for free, covering more than half of pediatric prescriptions.

“Our pharmacy business continues to grow because customers find value in our free prescription program, but also are filling additional prescriptions,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for the Lakeland, Fla., chain.

Giant Food, the Washington area’s largest grocery chain, began filling 90-day prescriptions for $9.99 last Friday at its 184 pharmacies. Giant’s program covers 350 of the most-common generic drugs.

“So far, the response has been very positive from our customers,” said Jamie Miller, spokesman for Giant.

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