Thursday, September 21, 2006

Damned, Evil Wal-Mart

Can you believe the nerve of Wal-Mart? Trying to go and do something good for people who need low cost generic prescriptions--even for people without drug coverage.

Wal-Mart announced today that it will start a test program in Florida, where it will sell generic prescription drugs for $4 for a 30-day supply. The test will start tomorrow in 65 Tampa Bay-area stores and is to expand to the whole state by January.

In a statement, CEO Lee Scott says the world’s largest retailer intends to “take the program to as many states as possible next year.”

On average, generic drugs tend to cost between $10 and $30 for a month-long supply.

The world’s biggest retailer said that it will test the program in Florida that will make 291 generic drugs available, which are used to treat a variety of condition from allergies to high-blood pressure. It will also be available to the uninsured.


The article does go on to criticize Wal-Mart’s employee health insurance plan (rightly or wrongly, I don’t feel well-equipped to judge), so obviously, there’s still a lot of room for continued left wing hatred of the big box chain of small-town-business-murdering stores. From where I sit, though, $4 generic drugs sound like a heck of a good deal. I have drug benefits, but when I recently hosted the Rock(s) of Gibraltar in delicate parts of my anatomy, the nearest drug store that could service my prescription didn’t take my insurance. I opted for generic versions of the prescriptions and ended up paying only $30 for the two bottles of narcotics and pain killers (praise the Lord) which seemed like a pretty good deal to me. If it had dropped to $8 for the bottles, I would have been ecstatic. And I would have asked for some extras…

If this works out it will be because Wal-Mart buys and sells in such immense quantities that both they and the manufacturers will still be making money off of the deal. Which is another way of saying that, at least in this instance, a free market solution is helping to solve a problem so that the government won’t have to.

But don’t you worry, Uncle Sugar has ways of showing up where he isn’t needed. While a company like Wal-Mart can explore ways to help people afford their prescriptions, the government will find a way to make sure that we all pay too much for a system that is far less efficient and far more expensive. Uncle Sugar has serious talents in that arena. Gotta get me that ol’ time wealth redistribution…


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