- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

11:48 a.m.

Retail giant Wal-Mart plans to announce today that it is bringing its generic-drug discount program to Maryland and Virginia residents.

The discount program offers 30-day generic-drug supplies for $4 to any consumer, including those who are uninsured. Wal-Mart started the program in Florida, expanded the program to 14 states earlier this month and will cover all 50 states by early 2007.

The announcements in Maryland and Virginia are two of 12 planned for today. The other states are Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio and South Dakota.

Wal-Mart does not have any stores in the District of Columbia.

The country’s No. 2 discount retailer, Target, said it would match Wal-Mart’s drug prices, but Walgreens and CVS say the generic drugs being offered at the discount already sell for about $5 or less.

BJ’s Wholesale Club said Tuesday that it will start charging $4 for 30-day supplies of some generic prescriptions.

Pharmacies at upscale grocery chain Wegmans Food Markets Inc. today will begin selling 90-day supplies of generic drugs for $11.99.

The Wegmans program — which includes almost 200 generic drugs when counting different strengths of the same medications — covers a variety of cardiac, thyroid, anti-depressant and other drugs.

In May, Kmart, which is part of Sears Holding Corp., started offering 90-day supplies of 184 generic prescriptions for $15 each at its 1,100 pharmacies nationwide.

The Wal-Mart program offers about 314 prescriptions. That number is made up of 143 drugs in a variety of dosages and in solid or liquid forms.

Wal-Mart says the program was created to save working Americans money on health care, but critics of the program say the drugs offered are generally available at prices close to $4.

Health care analysts say brand-name prescription medications are the driving force behind the increasing cost of drugs in America. Consumer spending on prescription drugs doubled from 1993 to 2003, according to the Government Accountability Office, and is the fastest-growing segment of health care expenditures.

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