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October 26, 2006 11:00 PM

Prescription Price War?

Is this the opening volley of a price war at prescription counters across South Dakota? Wal-Mart announced it's offering four-dollars for a month's supply of many of its generic drugs.

Wal-Mart says it's a sound business strategy: cutting the price on a fourth of its generic drugs will still turn a profit for the retail giant. Eric Siebold of Wal-Mart said, "Wal-Mart is applying business strengths to the health care system driving out unnecessary costs and passing the savings to its customers." 

Wal-Mart customers expect to see much lower drug payments when they get their prescriptions filled. Marge Hacken of Sioux Falls said, "It will keep costs down a lot, I'd say probably it will save me five, six bucks a time for sure." 

Wal-Mart's prescription price drop has prompted chains in other states to do the same. And South Dakota customers feel it may just be a matter of time before the competition responds in South Dakota. Bernard Hacken of Sioux Falls said, "I'm sure the first stone has been thrown today and I think there will be other ones following suit. It will be interesting by how the dust settles by I'd say the middle of next year to see who's involved." 

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Wal-Mart says the new pricing program isn't meant to be a cut-throat move against its competitors. But the company adds that it would welcome a ripple effect in the prescription drug industry.

Walgreens announced Thursday it will not match Wal-Mart's promotion. The company issued a statement saying "once customers learn the fine-print of Wal-Mart's program, they'll realize Walgreen's offers the best value for pharmacy patients." 

Click here for more information on the prescription drug program.
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