Need 30 mg? Walmart Charges You For Three 10 mg $4.00 Prescriptions

Debra writes:

WalMart advertises that generic prescriptions are just $4.00 for up to a 30 day supply. What they don’t tell you is that it must be what they consider a “commonly prescribed dosage,” so if your doctor decides you need a different dosage they count it as separate prescriptions. For example, if a pill comes in 10mg, 20mg or 40mg strengths and your doctor wants you to take 30mgs. WalMart counts that as 3 – 10mg prescriptions and charges you $12.00 for a 30 day supply.

The information about the dosage is not on the store signs, I found it on their website. Recently I had such a prescription filled; when I questioned the pharmacist about the price difference he became upset and was very rude to me.

We understand that the Walmart $4.00 generic program is for pills in commonly prescribed doses, but we’re a little confused as to why they charged you for three 10mg prescriptions when they could charge you for one 20 mg prescription and one 10 mg prescription. Maybe they thought that was too complicated?

Any pharmacists out there want to explain how this works?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Abusiveelusive says:

    $12 isn’t bad at all. Good job Wal-mart for offering cheap prescriptions.

  2. skitzogreg says:

    I’m going to defend Wal-Mart here, but hear me out. I’m an uninsured student and occasionally I will get a sinus infection, flu, etc. The average cost of a full course of antibiotics is $15-$30. However, using the Wal-Mart plan, I can get prescriptions for $4. On the plan, you have do understand that they do not offer 30mg of a certain generic medicine. Therefore, you have to triple the order, which costs you 3x as much. However, $12 is a lot better than having to pay more than that and it is completely understandable. If it wasn’t for Wal Mart having this plan, I would have been way broke. I don’t see this as unreasonable, because if they tell you to just triple the prescription, obviously you run out quicker, and will have to pay $4 for a refill.

  3. Abusiveelusive says:

    $12 isn’t bad at all. Good job Wal-mart for providing cheap prescriptions.

    I am guessing if they offered a 20mg dose and a 10mg dose, the 20mg dose + 10mg dose would come out to more than $12, so they were trying to save them money?

  4. sirwired says:

    Firstly, I expect that the doctor did not write a 30mg scrip. He probably wrote a “take 3 X times/day” scrip. I think that the dosage of the individual pill is part of the scrip, not something that the pharmacist figures out how to fill. It would probably be illegal for him to sub 20+10 if the scrip was for 3×10.

    Since Wal-Mart gets charged by the pill, it makes sense that if you are at 3x a normal dosage, you are going to get charged for three prescriptions.


  5. AMetamorphosis says:

    Make sure you have proof you paid for these as you exit your local Walmart …

  6. ohgoodness says:

    Um, surely you are not complaining about a $12 Rx. Maybe the doc perscribed for her to take three 10mgs a day, thus making her 30 day supply 90 pills.

    It’s really not that complicated nor unjust.

  7. Abusiveelusive says:

    Sorry for the double post. :-“

  8. alice_bunnie says:

    Walmart is very specific about the dosages they cover for the $4 prescriptions. I have run into this because one of the prescription I have is like that. They cover the most popular dosages of the popular medicines and if your dosage is double or triple that they don’t charge you the customary charge for the prescription they just charge you the multiplier of the $4 prescription charge. You’ve got to admit it’s still saving you a lot of money. Just check

  9. scarysnow says:

    Too bad they don’t cover the medication I need to treat the depression I may experience when shopping there.

  10. vermontwriter says:

    I agree with others at the fact that the prescription only cost $12. I just got away from MVP who was sending home daily letters about how they were no longer going to cover this med or that med. One of the last I got before my company switched to another insurance was that MVP no longer felt it in their best interest to cover birth control pills because there were no generic brands available. So apparently, it is more cost effective in their minds to pay for a full pregnancy and then infant care than to cover half the cost of birth control pills…

  11. ChuckECheese says:

    Contact Wal-Mart about this. They helped me when I had a similar problem with a script and a surly pharmacist. Their toll-free number, which is hard to find nowadays, is 800-966-6546. Be sure to have the store location (address and store number would be good) handy when you call.

  12. AMetamorphosis says:


    Touche’ !

  13. ChuckECheese says:

    Have you already had the prescription filled? The Walgreenses in my area are doing cheap prescriptions now. There is also the possibility of a Sam’s Club or Costco. In most states, you are entitled to use the pharmacy at these clubs even without a membership.

  14. djanes1 says:

    Just buy some Sam’s Choice Vicodin. You can get a huge bag of the stuff for like $2.99.

  15. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @ohgoodness: I think the complaint is about the fact that there isn’t anything in the store that explains the commonly prescribed dosage issue. It’s a disclosure not a monetary issue.

    Though she still might not be reading about this if the pharmacist hadn’t been rude in explaining it (though we have no way of knowing what exactly happened with that).

  16. Landru says:

    Abusiveelusive = shill

  17. rjhiggins says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I disagree. I think it’s well-publicized. For the complainant to assume that EVERY prescription in every dosage should be $4, when the ads do not say that, is over the top. I have no way of knowing, but my suspicion is that the pharmacist wasn’t the only rude person involved.

  18. zentex says:

    @ohgoodness: I think they ARE complaining…sad, very sad

  19. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @rjhiggins: I don’t think there should necessarily be signs up full of tiny type myself but I do think that’s what Debra is complaining about.

    I’ve never seen the ads or literature for this myself so I can’t say that they should be explaining this in more places or anything like that.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    @skitzogreg: Err, you know antibiotics do nothing for the flu, and only contribute to antibiotics being useless, right? :)

  21. skitzogreg says:

    @Trai_Dep: no, I take antibiotics because anytime I have drainage, I get a sinus infection. I’m not harming the world, so chill out. lol

  22. nerdbert says:

    Recently my wife got a long term prescription. The insurance company wanted to supply it in 3 month batches, even though the doc’s still trying to adjust her dosage. The insurance company wanted a $12/month copay, mailed in forms for reordering, doctor’s report, etc.

    Walmart wanted $4/month without the hassle of dealing with the insurance company and far easier ordering and filling.

    Guess which way we went?

  23. snoop-blog says:

    cut rx drugs prices dramatically, and people STILL bitch… wal-mart, nothing you do will ever be viewed as positive, even if it is, so f- these haters. my dad couldn’t afford to take all of his rx’s everyday, UNTIL wal-mart cut their prices. so me and my family are very happy.

  24. Juggernaut says:

    Take a picture of the pills, send them back with the UPC and request a rebate…

  25. gotbock says:

    They probably did this because they put all the 10 mg tablets in 1 container and label it with directions stating “take 3 once a day” or whatever to provide the 30 mg dose. Otherwise they’d have to use 2 containers (1 for the 10 mg and 1 for the 20 mg) and have different directions on each one. Could be done but could also be confusing to the patient and lead to lawsuits. I can see both sides on this one, but I think Walmart is just trying to cover themselves.

  26. scarletvirtue says:

    @snoop-blog: If I were in that position, I’d probably just suck it up and go to Wal-Mart so I could get my drugs at an affordable rate.

    It’s far better to go that route, than to have to decide which drugs you can afford this month and/or which drugs you’d have to spread out over 2-3 months.

    Also, it’s good to see that stores like Target and Walgreens are doing similar things with their generics.

  27. chemicalx9 says:

    I am a pharmacist and the question of why they did it this way all depends on what stock they had on hand, what the state laws are, and who typed the rx up. We as pharmacists attempt to make our best guess, when presented with these situations, as to what will be the easiest and least confusing on the patient. I would have chosen the same route as the Wal-Mart pharmacist. 3 tabs of 10mg is usually less confusing and easier to deal with than 10mg+20mg. It also guarantees that the patient will fill the correct rx and not only fill the 10mg or the 20mg rx.

    As for the rph being rude…well he works at Wal-mart…I would hate my job too

  28. bohemian says:

    All of the drug programs are detailed enough to find this out if you bother to go read the actual drug lists themselves. They will tell you what mg dosages are covered. Some drugs have multiple doses covered. But if you have to take two of the max strength (that is $4) a day your going to pay double.

    It is the consumer’s responsibility to read up on the program. But the pharmacist could have explained this or answered questions and not been snotty about it. We also don’t know if she said anything about “is this on the $4 program” when she placed the order.

  29. magic8ball says:

    @vermontwriter: They know it’ll be more expensive to cover the birth of a baby, but they’re betting on the fact that birth control is important enough to you that you’ll shell out for it yourself.

  30. Serpephone says:

    WalMart ripped me off by doing this to me. They say the thirty day supply for my medication is 30 tablets. My doctor prescribed 60 tablets for one month. So WalMart charged me $8–AND they report it to my insurance! Give me a break!

  31. joshthephenom says:

    @Serpephone: Out of curiosity… how much would your prescription cost if you had gone somewhere else?

  32. fireshaper says:

    They should have charged for a 40 mg less the 10 mg.

  33. tooshel says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with Walmart . . . I don’t know the details but basically my wife is supposed to take .275 (whatever grams) but there is no .275 dosage so Walgreens gives her a .200 and a .075 and she has to pay for it as if it’s two prescriptions . . . in her case $25 each. Sure, maybe there is some combination of dosages where she could split pills in half and only pay for one but where do we stop? Maybe we should get the 5.000 whatever gram pill and a scale and just crush them up and measure how much she needs with the scale . . . that way we would only need one prescription per year! Or, maybe the system should change and you should have to pay for the *amount* of medicine you need, not just what happens to be available in pill form as a “prescription”.

  34. milk says:

    @vermontwriter: That doesn’t make sense. there are plenty of generic birth control pills. The UT pharmacy had a deal where all BC pills were $10/month no matter what. When they stopped doing that, I was horrified at the prospect of paying $40/month for mine. The very next time I renewed, though, it was generic and only $10. That was years ago, and even before my mother has always had generic BC pills. I’m a bit touched in the head, so my megadose of psychiatric meds will be way cheaper at the $10 copay than at Wal-Mart. Moot point, I guess, since I’m lucky enough to get free BCBS from UT.

  35. Buran says:

    @rjhiggins: Why is it that whenever there’s a complaint about rude workers there’s someone who assumes the OP was at fault somehow for it?

    And, people, the complaint isn’t about the price but how it was one prescription and the charge got tripled.

  36. Skeptic says:

    “y joshthephenom at 02:13 PM Reply
    @Serpephone: Out of curiosity… how much would your prescription cost if you had gone somewhere else?”

    I think what people are objecting to is the lack of disclosure and the seeming deception, not the final price.

  37. Bunklung says:

    What’s to stop someone from requesting a prescription from their doctor for 10mg pills, but have the doctor write it for 30mg. If you really only need 10mg, but the doctor is writing it for 30mg, he just gave you a 90 day supply for 1/3 of the cost.

    Enter Walmart’s policy.

    As far as my personal experience with dosage, my insurance company covers what ever the doctor writes for a 1 month supply: 10mg, 30mg, 40mg, etc.

    Switching gears a bit…

    When I order a 90 day supply of mail order drugs, I have to make certain my doctor writes a prescription for 1 per month and not “take as needed” for my Albuterol. If he doesn’t indicate this in my perscription, then the mail order pharmacy sends me only 1 inhaler. So I pay $10 (3 month supply) for something that should cost me $5 (for a 1 month supply).

    I learned my lesson on that mistake. I got a $10 gift card from my insurance company when I complained about this :)

  38. joshthephenom says:

    @Skeptic: I realize that, but my point is, if the prescription still comes in cheaper than you could get it anywhere else, what does it truly matter? Their website clearly states what Walmart thinks are normal 30-day doses, so I guess I wouldn’t feel like it was deceptive since they’ve got it listed.

  39. Trai_Dep says:

    Isn’t it sort of skeevy that some Arkansas rube at Wal-Mart Corporate gets to decide that the “proper” dosage is, trumping what your doctor and pharmacist (were he not chained to the Beast) would prescribe?
    That’s essentially what they’re doing, by structuring their prices this way, and justifying it the way they do.

  40. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Target does the same thing.

    My dog takes Prozac (ya, rly) and only the lower doses are on the $4.00 list. So his Doggy Downers end up being $12.00 a month (3 x $4.00 = $12.00).

    It is cheaper to pay for his meds that way, though. My other option would be to get it all in one pill for about $64.00/month from the vet or the pharmacy.

    The dog prefers the 3-pill option, btw: 3 cheese-covered pill nuggets vs. 1 cheese-covered pill nugget. 3 pills = 3 times the cheesy goodness.

    Semi-interesting: he has his own “profile” at the Target pharmacy, with a list of known allergies (none) and his own “color” for the band around the bottle neck.

  41. snoop-blog says:

    yeah how dare wal-mart try to offer the lowest prices while still trying to make a profit! if they can’t sell thing for less than what they bought them for, well then i’m never shopping there again!

  42. Caveat says:

    On the contrary, I had a positive experience. The doctor ordered 20 mg. The Wal-Mart pharmacist just filled the prescription with twice as many 10 mg tabs and modified the instructions for me to take 2 each time. She then explained to me that it was cheaper that way ($4). I think it depends on the pharmacist to know the different prices and make the adjustments. I can see why Wal-Mart would prefer to buy in bulk volumes the lower dosage medicine and pass on the savings, rather than try to stock all of the dosages. It is easy to double or triple the amount of pills but cutting them is not easy, and sometimes not advised, depending on the drug.

  43. rjhiggins says:

    @Trai_Dep: Don’t know where you came up with the word “proper.” There is a “standard” dosage for most drugs, not determined by WalMart but by the manufacturer and FDA. Seems like a reasonable policy to me when you’re talking about $4.

    I despise WalMart and will never shop there, but even I find it pretty tough to find blame in this case.

  44. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    What’s to stop someone from requesting a prescription from their doctor for 10mg pills, but have the doctor write it for 30mg. If you really only need 10mg, but the doctor is writing it for 30mg, he just gave you a 90 day supply for 1/3 of the cost.

    @Bunklung: Wouldn’t it be easier to just ask the doctor for a 90 day supply? Like what you have to do for mail order. Wouldn’t a doctor ask why you suddenly want to triple your dosage?

    Isn’t it sort of skeevy that some Arkansas rube at Wal-Mart Corporate gets to decide that the “proper” dosage is…
    @Trai_Dep: They’re not saying that the doctor’s prescription is wrong, they’re saying that the pills don’t come in 30mg doses. The company that makes the drug made that decision, not Wal-mart.

  45. rjhiggins says:

    @Buran: You seem to have a problem with comprehension. I very clearly didn’t *assume” the OP was at fault. I speculated that someone who would complain about getting a prescription at such a low price (but not as low as she thought it should be, because she didn’t do her research), might just have come on strong, prompting her to call the pharmacist rude.

    But as I clearly said, “I have no way of knowing” for sure.

  46. Buran says:

    @rjhiggins: YOU clearly have a problem with reading comprehension, if we’re going to sit around and fling mud at other posters as well as blame the victim. Look again at what you posted.

    “but my suspicion is that the pharmacist wasn’t the only rude person involved.”

    has a subtext of

    “Well, she must have been less than fawningly polite despite being told that she was going to be charged 3x the rate listed for a single prescription, and because she didn’t bend over, smile, and take it, and dared to protest, she must have deserved what she got.”

  47. joebloe says:

    I love walmart prescription program. I have save thousand $$$ in statin and antibiotic meds.

  48. Buran says:

    @snoop-blog: again… it’s not the actual price, it’s the deceptive practices.

  49. chatterboxwriting says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: FYI, they have a list of all the $4 prescriptions available right at the Wal-Mart pharmacy. When I lost my insurance, I just asked if they had a list, and they gave me one. It’s a few pages long. It’s also how I learned that in some states, PA being one of them, they are not ALLOWED to charge $4 for some of the medications. Some of them are $9 instead. $9 is still good, so I am not bitching about the price itself, just that WM charges $4 for the drugs in other states, but in my state, lawmakers say it has to be $9.

  50. snoop-blog says:

    @rjhiggins: i wish people would learn to quit feeding the trolls. ignore him and just move on. he sits here all day every day disagreeing with people just to hopefully pick a fight. i totally agree with your suspicion, but we have no way of knowing for sure. lol.

  51. scarletvirtue says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: That’s awesome. And I’ve heard of dogs taking Prozac – the instances I know of, it was for serious anxiety problems.

  52. scoosdad says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: You can get Prozac with cheesy coatings? Cool!

    Now if only I could convince my MD to prescribe all of my dog’s various medications (none of them generics) in my name so I could get my insurance company to pay the tab….


  53. Buran says:

    @snoop-blog: I am not here to pick fights. I get accused of being a troll just because people don’t like what I have to say? Sounds like I’m not the one picking fights.

    It’s not trolling to point out a problem with something someone else says.

  54. Raanne says:

    just go to Meijer – they’re free there, and you don’t have to pay the $4…

    /same rules apply I’m sure

    //isn’t target doing that now as well?

    I think i heard that the administration, etc., for contacting the insurance companies was more money than they would make on these prescriptions anyway. Usually antibiotics cost less than the copay even…

  55. bluewyvern says:

    @Bunklung: “What’s to stop someone from requesting a prescription from their doctor for 10mg pills, but have the doctor write it for 30mg. If you really only need 10mg, but the doctor is writing it for 30mg, he just gave you a 90 day supply for 1/3 of the cost.”

    He also just committed insurance fraud.

    That’s what stops them.

    Also, if a doctor writes a script for a 90 day supply and calls it a 30 day supply, then it will be fillable again after only 30 days, and the patient could be overdosing without anyone knowing, or reselling the surplus, etc.

    But the short answer is fraud.

    And as far as dispensing three 10mg pills vs one 10mg and one 20mg — in order to dispense pills of two different strengths, the pharmacist would have to be holding two separate scripts, one that said “1 10mg once a day” and one that said “1 20mg once a day”. They would be processed separately and billed separately, with two copays. Maybe this is possible, and would be cheaper than three copays, but would involve sending the patient back/calling up the doctor for two new scripts to replace the original one, plus any confusion and chance for error that can result from having to take pills of two different strengths rather than one. To dispense 30mg as a single prescription, the pharmacist has to find a way to fill it using a single strength, whether that’s three 10mg, two 15mg, one 30mg, or 60mg cut in half…as long as the pills all come from the same bottle with the same NDC.

    I’m not really familiar with Wal-Mart’s store pricing, but if the uncommon 30mg strength is not eligible for the $4 pricing, I would guess the pharmacist filled it in the cheapest way possible — 90 of the 10mg must have been cheaper than whatever the cash price for 30 of the 30mg was.

    The rudeness on whomever’s part was unfortunate, though.

    (– former Rx tech)

  56. Rxram says:

    Lets see If I have this right… Debra is upset that a 30 day supply of her prescription dose that is NOT listed on the 4$ list is more than 4$… I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Debra has no legs to stand on… The 4$ generic lists make it painstakingly clear that ONLY specific quantities of specific generics @ the specified doses are available for 4 dollars. Any variation outside those specified is not guaranteed for 4$. Therefore… if your doctor opts to write a prescription for a commercially unavailable dose, which obviously will not appear on the list you can not reasonably expect to receive it for 4$. Her cheapest alternative is to take 20mg 1 & 1/2 tablets daily, which would 45 tabs @ 6$/month… still not 4$. The only fault of the pharmacist was his or her rude response to the patient… Which was unfortunate.

  57. Smashville says:

    How is it failure to disclose? I found this in 2 seconds on Wal-Mart’s website with no google help…