Wal-Mart practical with discount medicine

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    Last week, Wal-Mart announced a plan to stick with its mantra and offer many generic drugs at lower prices.With health care costs already high and increasingly being shifted to the consumer from both traditional insurance plans and government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, it is becoming more difficult for people from all economic brackets to afford medication.

    The retail giant’s decision is a sound one. The program is being tested in Tampa, Fla., where about 300 generic prescription drugs are being sold for as little as $4 a prescription.

    Critics of the retailer claim offering lower prescription prices will be ineffective in the long run and are primarily aimed at improving Wal-Mart’s health care relations with its employees, according to a Sept. 21 New York Times article.

    Wal-Mart’s move, however, is a step in the right direction for the prescription drug market and health care system. It has used its purchasing power to drive costs of prescriptions down.

    Wal-Mart also used its size and economic clout to change the landscape of the pharmaceutical marketplace since public leaders in government seem unable or unwilling to tackle the issue.

    The plan, which Wal-Mart will introduce throughout the country next year, only offers certain drugs, and prices vary. But the promise this plan offers is more than enough to give it merit.

    College students often follow a budget, and filling prescriptions can be hard on a student’s wallet. Wal-Mart’s prescription plan is an excellent way for students to save money by not having expensive prescriptions to pay for each month.

    By shaking up the marketplace, Wal-Mart is providing an alternative choice to customers, and, if well received, it would be possible to see this plan expanded to cover more prescription drugs.

    Wal-Mart believes this change will give the store some competitive edge. Too bad those folks in Washington don’t think the same way.

    Ryan Claunch for the editorial board