BY JOHN DORSCHNER
Wal-Mart announced a major expansion of its $4 prescription-drug program Monday morning to include over-the-counter drugs and adding 90-day prescriptions for $10.
Executives said in a conference call that its discount drug program has so far saved customers more than $1 billion.
''We can do more to help families nationwide at a time when they need us,'' said Dr. John Agwunobi, Wal-Mart senior vice president, in a telephone conference call.
The over-the-counter offerings will cover 1,000 items, including generic versions of Zantac, Pepcid and Claritin. They will be priced at $4, about half the price they sell for now in major drug stores and supermarkets, Wal-Mart executives said.
A quick check at two South Florida stores showed the Wal-Mart offer makes for considerable savings.
At a Publix in Miami Shores, extra-strength acetaminophen, the equivalent of Tylenol, cost $7.99 for 100 tablets, compared to Wal-Mart's new price of $4 for 200 tablets. The Publix brand equivalent of Advil cost $10.99 for 250 tablets, compared to Wal-Mart's $4 for 200.
At Publix, the 20 mg equivalent of Pepcid cost $4.99 for 25 tablets, compared to $4 for 50 tablets at Wal-Mart. Sixty tablets, 75 mg strength, of the equivalent of Zantac cost $12.99 at Publix, compared to $4 for 65 tablets, 150 mg strength at Wal-Mart.
At a Miami Shores Walgreens, the allergy medicine Claritin was $23.99 for 40 tablets and $13.99 for the equivalent, compared to $4 for 30 tablets of the generic at Wal-Mart.
At Walgreens, 100 ''Cool Caplets'' of Tylenol Extra Strength cost $8.99 and the generic cost $5.99. Wal-Mart is $4 for 200 extra-strength caplets. Advil cost $14.99 for 200 tablets, while the generic Walgreens brand $8.99 for 100, compared to $4 for 200 tablets or caplets at Wal-Mart.
In its existing $4 prescription drug program, Wal-Mart estimated it has saved its Florida customers $81.4 million during the year and a half its been in existence. Its research showed the company saved Florida customers an average of $6.09 on more than 13 million prescriptions.
Executives said they also plan to have more than 400 walk-in clinics operating in Wal-Marts by the end of 2009.