Walmart Adds More Drugs To The $4 Program, You Can Now Control Your Fungus For Cheap

The New York Times is reporting that Walmart has decided to expand their $4 generic drug program. The program will now include generics of “widely used heart medication Coreg and the anti-fungal drug Lamisil.”

We’re glad. Controlling fungus should be affordable enough for everyone. Lamisil used to cost $337.

Also getting a price chop: a fertility drug and two forms of birth control, a move that the NYT says is meant to lure young women into the store. You can now pick up your reproduction related drugs for $9 a month. Other big box stores have similar programs if you’re not into Walmart. Kmart has a $15 (for a 90 day supply) program. Meijer offers free antibiotics.

The only drawback to Walmart’s cheap generics? Controlling your deep urges to buy Walmart’s other products. Huge jar of Vlasic pickles… your siren song is impossible to resist.

Wal-Mart Adds Drugs to $4 Program [NYT]
(Photo:Ms. Jessica)

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  1. liquisoft says:

    I hate WalMart in almost every way except for 2 things they do: this $4 drug program and their low-priced eco-friendly bulbs.

  2. Extended-Warranty says:

    Good. F the pharmacies.

  3. kellyhelene says:

    $9 a month?! Wow… that’s less than I used to pay Planned Parenthood in the lowest non-free income bracket! (and that was a decade ago!)

    I hate walmart as much as anyone here, but I have a lot of friends who don’t have insurance, make too much for discounted PP services, but still can’t afford to pay full-price for birth control. They’ll be thrilled. (and I already told them about it.)

  4. blue_duck says:

    I know it probably doesn’t make a big deal of difference, but the thought of “generic birth control” scares me just a little bit.

  5. kellyhelene says:

    @blue_duck: Most women on the pill are on generic BC. There’s a generic version of just about everything out there, other than the newest pills. And anyone going to a planned parenthood or health center on campus is also getting generics.

  6. Jeff_McAwesome says:

    Damnit, now we have to say something good about walmart.

  7. SwatLax says:

    $80 for 3 month supply through a mail order partner with my wife’s insurance. Was another $15 to get it from CVS for that period of time. WalMart’s price is a significantly less, and will probably get her in Walmart at least once a month.

  8. ShadeWalker says:

    bo

  9. ShadeWalker says:

    birth control and pickles in the same place? hell yea!

  10. OKH says:

    I get it – Walmart is sort of like a a corporate version of the US. They do some really heinous things and at the same time, they’re capable of doing some amazingly good things.

    I’m deep!

  11. cef21 says:

    OKH –

    What are you talking about? Walmart is doing exactly the same thing to your neighborhood pharmacist as it does to your neighborhood bookstore. Heck, this may even be worse — I think Walmart is actually pricing these below what it costs Walmart to buy them, just to get them into the store. How is the poor pharmacist over on main street in your local small town, who has been meeting that town’s drug needs for years, supposed to compete with that? Don’t you have any loyalty?

  12. bohemian says:

    Where is the list? I have seen this news story everywhere but nobody has the list including Walmart’s website.

    I want to know before I have to go restock more of the obnoxiously priced drugs I have to take.

  13. kellyhelene says:

    @cef21: You have a neighborhood pharmacist?
    Shoot… all I have are CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, and the grocery chains.

  14. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    Exactly, KellyHelene. There are no “neighborhood pharmacies” where I live. Unless Walgreens counts.

  15. shades_of_blue says:

    While the price is good, for picking up drugs prescribed by your doctor, I still don’t trust Walmart. I know that a typical pharmacist earns a 6 figure salary, and I don’t see Walmart fronting that bill.

    That means that you get less competent pharmacists, the rejects which could not get a reference [for a job] from a reputable pharmacy. A pharmacist should be able to answer any health related questions about your prescription, some reject who could not find a local pharmacy probably can’t. So vesting my life in their hands does not feel very kosher.

    BTW If you think I’m wrong about pharmacists and how important a reference from a pharmacy is, you’re wrong. I know the owner of a local pharmacy and we got talking about how they fill that position. In almost every case the position is filled by word of mouth. She told me about the one time she hired from a temp office and got some filthy hippy save the animals freak, who ran over a squirrel on the way to work. She picked it up and put it in her car all day, which ripped her can to bits and then took it to the vet. Needless to say, her employment only lasted 1 business day.
    Right now she’s probably employed by Wal-Mart’s pharmacy, and if not freaks like her are. As I said, I don’t feel safe placing my life in their hands.

  16. SOhp101 says:

    @cef21: As much as I am pro-small business, health care (drugs) is one of those areas that have basic products needlessly marked up and too expensive for struggling families.

    Besides, it’s not like they’re selling all the drugs for ridiculously low prices; just the very basics which are generic brands and cost next to nothing to manufacture/sell already. Think of it as the store that decides to sell Ethernet cables for $4.99 (still making a decent profit on the cable) instead of $24.99.

    These are just loss leaders that encourage customers to transfer their other high profit prescriptions to Wal-Mart as well. Many other retailers, for example electronic stores work in this situation as well, do the same thing.

    Pharmacies do not run on low profit margins like grocery stores and other ‘general’ shops, so I’m not sure if the analogy works in this situation.

  17. SOhp101 says:

    I should probably add that while this won’t encourage me to shop at Wal-Mart anytime soon, it’ll definitely bring more basic generic prescription drug costs down in many other stores which can only be a win for consumers.

  18. Skiffer says:

    Low-cost generic drugs at China-mart…have we learned nothing?!?

  19. cef21 says:

    SOHP –

    One of the effects here is that people have been switching to generic prescriptions. Not everybody can do that, but there are often less expensive generic alternatives. With this much of a price discrepancy and the amount of press its received, more people are asking their doctors about the difference. As a result, the total spent on prescription drugs has dropped much more than people originally thought.

    In general, the only drugs without generic conuterparts are the ones that were invented in the last 20 years. If there’s a drug that people were using in 1987, there’s probably a generic version of it today. (Except for those that were pulled for safety or efficacy reasons.)

    I was being facetious with my last comment. I do as much shopping as I can at Walmart. Doing so helps the most local economy I know of–the one consisting of my household.

  20. thepounder says:

    @shades_of_blue: You could look at it from the other side of that question — do you believe a good Pharmacist would actually work at a WalMart if the pay was really poor compared to working other places?

    Pharmacist Pay — I know it’s just a wiki, but good info nonetheless.

  21. hoo_foot says:

    I don’t get to say this often, but…good for Wal-Mart!

  22. kadath217 says:

    I recently discovered that Target offers a host of free generics, too. They offer a list in PDF form at this site: [sites.target.com]

  23. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    You can get the list at Walmart. Also Publix has some free generics, I think antibiotics only. Also about the bad pharmacists, thats retarded. They have great pharmacists at Walmart and some of the techs that work at the hospital do part-time at Walmart too.

  24. Extended-Warranty says:

    Giant Eagle (a grocery chain) also has these drugs as well.

  25. consumer_999 says:

    “Huge jar of Vlasic pickles… your siren song is impossible to resist.”

    Damn straight! 62-ouncer, baby! I go through one of those a month.

  26. SOhp101 says:

    @cef21: It’s amazing how people even today have this idea that somehow name brand medications are somehow more effective/safe than the generic counterparts. If anything, the opposite is true; the FDA is much stricter on manufacturers and the manufacturing of generic medications.

    Another glaring flaw in our prescription problems in the US: advertising/marketing. Ignorant customers unwittingly assume that the drugs shown in commercials on TV are the best for them. Little do they know that one of the new marketing tactics of drug companies is to “combine” two drugs together to form a new one, or making a minor change to the formula to differentiate it (from a marketing perspective with little actual improvement) from a generic that is about to be introduced to the market.

    Even worse is the influence of pharmaceutical reps on doctors. I don’t know the exact statistics, but after a rep ‘pushes’ a doctor to use a certain drug for a given condition, the doctor is more than 50% likely to prescribe the new medication, EVEN if there are older medications that do the job better. Doctors don’t get nearly the amount of drug education they need and most family doctors rarely ever stay up to date on drug news, etc.

    Often times if a drug is too expensive, talk with your pharmacist about your symptoms, what the doctor diagnosed the problem as, and your pharmacist may be able to suggest a lower priced alternative. Always buy generic if possible, and now some pharmaceutical companies are offering a prescription assistance program that may help subsidize the cost of your drugs based on your income.

  27. Hambriq says:

    @SOhp101:
    Even worse is the influence of pharmaceutical reps on doctors. I don’t know the exact statistics, but after a rep ‘pushes’ a doctor to use a certain drug for a given condition, the doctor is more than 50% likely to prescribe the new medication, EVEN if there are older medications that do the job better. Doctors don’t get nearly the amount of drug education they need and most family doctors rarely ever stay up to date on drug news, etc.

    You don’t know the exact statistics… and yet you still try to quote one.

    This kind of ridiculous pablum represents the kind of widespread misunderstanding of what is wrong with the health care system. Believe me, I am 100% pro generic. I think if it’s medically appropriate, a generic alternative should be prescribed. But I am also extremely pro-Pharma companies. There’s a reason why doctors are prescribing these new drugs. Because they are better.

    Here’s the other thing; you’re claiming that doctors don’t get the amount of drug education they need, and yet you’re lambasting the main source of drug educators? Commence the incredulity, etc. etc., but the majority of doctors get their information about new drugs from the drug reps or from company literature.

    It’s like buying a new car instead of a used car. Where do we find out about all the cool new cars coming out? You don’t have a room full of people passing along whispers saying, “Hey, you heard about the new Toyota hybrid?” Just like you don’t have a room full of doctors who are just magically informed of the presence of new drugs. No, the company advertises the car, and the company offers information to you. You don’t go to a car magazine if you want technical details of the vehicle, you go to the company’s website. And just like you don’t take the car company’s word for gospel on the quality of the car, you don’t take the drug rep’s word regarding the quality of the medicine. You do independent research.

    Don’t try to tell me that doctors don’t have time to research the drugs themselves, because in that case, it’s the doctor’s fault for being irresponsible and not fully looking into a medicine he’s prescribing. The vast majority of doctors view drug reps as what they are: at best, a source of valuable information about drugs, and at worst, annoying. None but the most irresponsible and lazy of doctors view them as preachers of truth. And if they do, they are the ones at fault, not the pharma companies.

  28. Red_Eye says:

    No problem controlling shopping urge at WalMart. Matter of fact 2 days ago we were there to pick up 3 prescriptions for my daughter. Dropped them off at 3:40 and they said they would be ready in an hour and 15 mins. My wife being frugal asked if there were generics of any of the prescriptions, they said yes the liquid antibiotic had a generic and they wold be happy to issue that. So we came back at 5:00. They then quoted us 5:15 (wife started to get angry).

    At 5:20 they said the meds were ready. My wife told me to take our 5yr old daughter to the car and she would meet me there after she paid and spoke with a manager about the crummy waits we always have to deal with.

    At 5:40 my wife comes out to the car and I asked if she chewed the manager a new one. She told me she had Just then gotten our daughters meds and come straight out. I asked what the new hold up was and she said when they rang her up the total was too high, so she asked the cost of the meds and they generic antibiotic was too expensive compared to the name brand (which we had purchased a few months back). She told the pharmacist she wanted the name brand then if WalMart was going to charge more for the generic. The pharmacist said the name brand would be likely more expensive and my wife told her to check it. Sure enough the name brand was more expensive. My wife then asked just how much of the stuff the pharmacist was giving us. And she said 5ml dose for 14 days.

    Some of you know what I am about to say. My wife stared blankly at the pharmacist who she already held much contempt for and said, so you’re giving me 14 days worth all at once. The pharmacist said yes… My wife said (loudly) think about it.

    Most liquid antibiotics lose their potency and are worthless after 10 days and should be tossed. Even the pharmaceuticals company label on the bottle says to dispose of the meds after 10 days. In the past when we have more than a 10 day course the other pharmacist on duty would take it as one prescription and tell use at 9 days come get the remaining doses I will have it pre-labeled and unmixed so it will be no charge since its only one prescription. This pharmacist evidently po’ed that she’d had her expensive medical training trounced by a layperson informed my wife that it was the doctors fault for writing the prescription the way he did and that we would have to pay a second co-pay to get the remaining doses.

    So WalMart can take their pharmacy and shove it, if their employees are so stupid they don’t even know how to fill a prescription right I don’t care how many drugs they put on the $4 list. I for one look forward to prescription vending machines.

    If you get your prescriptions at WalMart make sure you know youre stuff so you don’t waste your money.

  29. Hambriq says:

    Rant over.

    Okay, that being said, I’m glad Wal-Mart is doing this. They’re still basically utilizing the “Wal-Mart effect” to their advantage, using prescriptions as a loss leader to get people into their stores. But I’d rather see Wal-Mart take the financial hit than the government, the insurance companies, or the pharma companies.

    The first iteration of this list was composed primarily of drugs that were extremely inexpensive, but carvedilol (generic Coreg) and birth control, even the generics, aren’t cheap.

    Also, read this post, and email me at hambriq@gmail.com if you have any questions or need any advice about how to keep your monthly prescription prices down.

  30. Hambriq says:

    @Red_Eye:
    Most liquid antibiotics lose their potency and are worthless after 10 days and should be tossed.

    Ehh.

    Which antibiotic was your daughter prescribed?

  31. Hambriq says:

    Sorry, I accidentally hit “reply” too early. I ask this because a good portion of oral antibiotics can be kept for 14 days. For the most part, the ones that are good for 10 days are the ones that aren’t prescribed for any longer than that.

    So there’s a good chance your wife’s anger may have been unwarranted.

  32. shades_of_blue says:

    @thepounder: No, that’s what I’m getting at, a knowledgeable [competent] pharmacist would not work for less. In that industry Wal-Mart would most likely be the less, which is why I would not trust them.

  33. RandomHookup says:

    I’ve been looking to lure some young women to my place, too. Maybe I should start offering cheap birth control.

  34. Bobg says:

    I found out what is causing the spike in health care costs. I had to have stents put in. When that happens they start prescribing pill after pill. I have to take eight pills a day. The total cost of the top of the line drugs is $1007 a month. I raised hell at the doctor’s office and they changed the prescrips to generic. My bill now is $20 $4 for each generic.) Go to the Wal-Mart generic drug site and look at all of the generics that are available for the specific illnesses. Is it any wonder why the cost of health care is going through the roof? Got to support those drug salesmen.

  35. Hambriq says:

    BobG:

    All those generic drugs you’re taking now were expensive, top of the line drugs at one point. They didn’t just hit the market as a generic. “Got to support those drug salesmen?” How about, “Got to support that health industry.” If nobody wanted to pay money for higher quality drugs, there would be no generic drugs, and we’d all be eating willow bark and making circles out of sawdust to cure our fevers.

  36. suburbancowboy says:

    @liquisoft: I went to costco last night, and they had an 8 pack of CFL bulbs for 10 dollars, and an 8 dollar instant LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) rebate. So they rang up at 2 dollars for 8. I tried them last night, and they give of nice soft white light, not a harsh fluorescent color. So you can subtract one of your two reasons for going to Wal-Mart right there. Costco also has very cheap generics, but not as cheap as Wal-Mart. Costco has much much better business ethics than Wal-Mart. I would never ever shop at Wal-Mart, and I am quite and comfortable to shop at Costco.

  37. dandd says:

    @blue_duck: All “Generic” means is that it doesn’t come under a brand name.
    For example, Ibuprofen is a generic drug, but Advil is a name brand. The chemical composition in both is exactly the same.

  38. missmicrophone says:

    I had a heck of a time finding out what medications are on the updated list since they have now included the generic for ritalin, which my son takes for his ADHD. The pharmacy said it was not on the updated list, that in fact no ADHD meds were on there. I told him that had to be incorrect because the WalMart press release said they would now be included. Then I talked to someone else who told me that the ADHD list was secret and they could not disclose it to me unless I was a physician. Then finally the regional manager called me and answered my question, that yes the generic ritalin is included, but not listed, because it is a controled substance and can be advertised. Talk about the runaround. BUT in their defense, they solved my issue same day.

  39. Red_Eye says:

    @Hambriq: Omnicef/Cefdinir this time. And yes the pharm was going to combine two 10 day bottles into one to give the aforementioned 14 day supply.

    And by most I meant things like Omnicef, Augmentin, Ceftin, etc, the ones the big pharma wants pushed and the doctors push. I have seen myself my wife and my kid all prescribed at least 8 different antibiotics in the past 2 years that I had never heard of.

  40. Hambriq says:

    Red_Eye:

    Omnicef does only keep for 10 days. I applaud your wife’s prudence in making sure that she is getting the proper kind of health care treatment, but at the same time, don’t get carried away… About 50% of the oral antibiotic suspensions out there (expensive or cheap, generic or brand name) do keep for 14 days.

    There really isn’t an indication for Omnicef to be used for 14 days. It’s almost always either 5 ot 10. The pharmacist should have (and probably did) call the doctor to confirm the dosage. It is certainly possible that the doctor told the pharmacist to go ahead and mix both of the bottles, and that the extra 4 days wouldn’t make too much of a difference.

    Even if that was the case, the pharmacist should not have been rude to you. I myself find it refreshing when a patient knows something about their medication, even it it can be slightly misguided from time to time. I appreciate the effort. For that pharmacist not to extend you the option of either coming back to receive a second, unmixed bottle, or mixing the bottle yourself, shows a severe lack of customer service. And ultimately, the hallmark of a good pharmacist is customer service.

    At the same time, the road goes both ways. Pharmacists and pharmacy techs can often be the gatekeeper between you getting what you want and you getting screwed. It’s far too easy for a pharmacy worker to fall back on one of the countless nebulous scapegoats such as “federal law”, “insurance companies”, and just plain ignorance. At the same time, there are countless opportunities to skirt the usual order of business in order to better serve you (my tip featured earlier is just one of them). Being nice instead of shouting and throwing a fit can often mean the difference between one or the other. I would never advocate purposefully giving a patient the shaft, but there are a lot of petty workers out there who would. And when it’s your medicine, and therefore your health on the line, it’s always better to play it safe and be nice to your pharmacist than throw a fit and make a scene.

  41. jenaann says:

    @shades_of_blue: Clearly shades_of_blue is an ignorant douche bag. I am a pharmacy intern at a Walmart pharmacy and I’ve had 6 years of college so far and 2 more years to go. I will have 2 degrees and 8 years education under my belt when I graduate. Let me tell you something about Wal-mart pharmacy. We are amazing. All the Walgreens pharmacists and grocery store chain pharmacists are some of the oldest and therefore in turn the least educated people when it comes to knowledge on the today’s newest drugs. Our pharmacy counsels EVERY person on their prescription, and all 4 of our pharmacists are extremely educated and can answer any question your dumb ass mind can throw at us (i.e Let us help you find the condoms so that there are not more idiots like you running around). As for our $4 dollar program, again we are awesome. We help many people. who would otherwise not be able to afford drug, be able to pay for their maintenance drugs (let me define this for you shades….I’m sure you don’t understand what that means). Maintenance drugs consist of prescription drugs that a person needs to take on a daily basis to live as healthy of life as possible.) And as for that random story you provided about the hippie, it wouldn’t surprise me if that person was A) Working at Burger King with you for $5 bucks an hour, and B) Your Mom. So next time when your local Walgreens pharmacy, (that charges you up the ass so that they can be a 24 hour store), doesn’t know the answer to your OTC question, you can come over to Walmart and we will be happy to answer your question CORRECTLY.

  42. jenaann says:

    @thepounder: In most cases Wal-mart pharmacists make more money than other pharmacies because we don’t have to be open 24 hours a day, and we have less pharmacists on staff. Don’t listen to that dumbass shades.

  43. olddognewtrix says:

    I despise Wal-Mart. It doesn’t matter what you go in to get, you end up spending $100 because it is easier to get the things you need rather than go for the specials at the grocery store or dollar store.

    My insurance company has recently required mail order use on ALL maintenance drugs. After my pharmacist at Kroger told me my husband’s blood pressure med was rejected and required mail order, he then told me he had checked the Wal-Mart $4 list. Any drug on Wal-Mart’s $4 list is met by Kroger. I was very grateful that my pharmacist used good customer skills and informed me of this. I now can get our maintenance meds for $4 at MY pharmacy – better than the insurance co-pay. While all of our meds on not on the list, I intend to ask our doctor if any of our other meds can be safely substituted for ones on the Wal-Mart list. Now I can use the Wal-Mart plan without ever going close to the store. Check with your pharmacy to see if they will meet other pharmacy’s price. I didn’t even have to – or know to ask – and can still use my choice of pharmacies. Mail order does not offer counseling. Kroger has caught a couple of mistakes made by a specialist I had to see keeping me from taking two meds together that would cause serious problems. Generics seem to be working well for us, but after my husband’s last doctor appt, he came out with three new medication samples and SURPRISE prescriptions for all three.

    He is 47 years old and has ADD. My insurance has refused to pay for the meds because he is over 17. I really appreciate finding out on another post you made that Riatlin is on the Wal-Mart $4 list although not advertised.

  44. Anonymous says:

    At medtipster.com, you can search for the low-cost alternatives to your prescriptions. By simply entering prescription drug name, dosage and zip code, you will be provided with a list of $4 drugs and other discount generic pricing information for your prescriptions available at pharmacies in your neighborhood.