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Published: Tuesday, 5/6/2008

Drug-price cuts expanded by Wal-Mart

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LITTLE ROCK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, expanded its program of discounted prescription drugs yesterday to 90-day supplies for $10 and added several women's medications at a discount. It also said it would lower the price of more than 1,000 over-the-counter drugs.

The move is the third phase of a company program that began in 2006 to provide a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs for $4.

The company began filling prescriptions yesterday for up to 350 generic medications at $10 for a 90-day supply at Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market, and Sam's Club pharmacies in the United States. Almost all the prescription generics in the company's $4 program were included in the expanded $10 offer, said Wal-Mart senior vice president John Agwunobi.

The women's medications to be added to its list of prescriptions available for $9 included drugs to treat breast cancer and hormone deficiency.

Price reductions for over-the-counter medications affect about one-third of those carried by the retailer and include Wal-Mart's versions of popular drugs such as Zantac, Pepcid, and Claritin, as well as Wal-Mart's Spring Valley prenatal vitamins.

Since 2006, Wal-Mart's $4 generic drug program has expanded to every state, except North Dakota, where Wal-Mart has no in-store pharmacies. And many competitors have followed the retailer's lead.

Bill Simon, Wal-Mart chief operating officer, said the company would not, however, offer free generic drugs at its in-store clinics as some competitors have.

"We're in business to make money," he said. "Free is a price that is not a long-term sustainable proposition."



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