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Mississippi Now Included in Wal-Mart $4 Prescription Drugs Program

From: Wal-Mart         Filed 10/26/06

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced that that its 70 stores in Mississippi will begin participating in Wal-Mart's $4 generic prescription program starting today.

"No one in Mississippi should have to cut pills in half, decide between taking medicine and putting food on the table, or go without medicines altogether," said Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott. "We are proud to be leading this effort to make sure our nation's seniors, working families and uninsured get the medications they need at a price they can afford."

Today's announcement brought 12 new states with a total of 1,008 stores into the $4 generic program. The new states are: Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia.

The program, which was launched in 1,499 pharmacies in 15 states during the past month, was originally slated to begin in states outside of Florida no earlier than January 2007. Customer demand, however, prompted Wal-Mart to accelerate the program's launch. The other states already participating include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.

The $4 generic program includes 314 generic prescriptions available for up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages. The list of 314 generic prescriptions is made up of as many as 143 compounds in 24 therapeutic categories.

Wal-Mart estimates that the list of $4 prescription medications represents nearly 25 percent of generic prescriptions currently dispensed in its pharmacies nationwide. According to the http://www.rxlist.com, the list also represents 14 of the top 20 prescribed medications in the United States. Generic medicines have an estimated cost that is 30 to 60 percent lower than an equivalent brand name product.

In making this announcement, Bill Simon, executive vice president of Wal-Mart's Professional Services Division, indicated that the customer response has been significant. Within four days of the October 19 roll out announcement, more than 152,000 new prescriptions were filled by Wal-Mart pharmacies in all 14 states.

Simon said he has heard hundreds of stories from customers and pharmacists about the program's value. He noted, many customers have been surprised by the savings.

"In Texas, when a woman was told that the prescriptions were $4 apiece, she became fearful that one of our associates was trying to be overly kind and help her pay for them. So she said that she could not accept the prescriptions because she did not want the cashier to be fired. When the pharmacist convinced her otherwise, she exclaimed -- with tears in her eyes -- that she was going out to celebrate by having a Whataburger(R) for supper," said Simon. "You see, she hadn't been able to treat herself to this indulgence for nearly a year because she was on such a tight budget. We take great pride in knowing that this program is making a real difference in our customers' lives."

Simon said customer savings on top-selling prescription medications in the program are projected to be significant. For specific medications, the company estimates the following approximate savings to Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam's Club customers and members in the 27 participating states, based on September average retail prices from http://www.myfloridarx.com:
    * Fluoxetine (20 mg), an antidepressant: nearly $1.9 million monthly and
      $23.2 million annually on this medication.
    * Amoxicillin (500 mg), an antibiotic: about $1.3 million monthly and
      $15.5 million annually on this medication.
Simon said that Wal-Mart will continue to push for expansion to other states as quickly as possible.

"Our goal is to respond to customer demand, but to do so in a way that doesn't hamper our ability to serve our customers," he said. "We are listening to our pharmacists and looking at our supply chain management and in-store operations, so that we can figure out how we can continue to make this program available to as many customers as possible without jeopardizing our business or the relationship between our customers and our pharmacists."

Consumers interested in saving money on prescriptions through the program should ask their doctor if a generic is available for their prescription and if it is right for them. At this time, the $4 prescriptions are not available by mail order, but are available on-line, or by telephone for refills only for in-person pickup in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

 More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting http://www.walmartfacts.com.

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