From the moment I learnt that Walmart will be selling a month’s supply of prescription drugs for $4 – I was intrigued. Apparently Walmart is starting this with 300 generic drugs out of its Tampa, Florida stores and no you cannot mail order. Yes, you can order by telephone and get your friendly retired Uncle or Aunt to pick up on your behalf in Florida. But the good news,particularly for the un-insured, is that Walmart is going to roll the program out nationwide.
What intrigued me was that I had the 4$ figure somewhere at the back of my mind and much before the Walmart story broke. Then I remembered my pharmacy(called chemist) visit in India over the summer. That was one place that you can buy common prescription drugs in retail for a month for about $4. Since the US stories did not mention that Walmart had global sourcing plans and I have just too many US pharmaceutical industry students and friends who would be incredulous at the $4 figure – I went to the local Rite Aid and checked out the Claritin generic (Loratidine 10 mg) selling at $13.99. The package had a "Made in India" label.
So how would Walmart make a profit?? The mystery was solved when I located this report from the Canberra Times, Australia which states that Walmart will get the drugs manufactured out of India. In any event, this is good news for the less wealthy US consumer who is really beleaguered with high drug costs and would have the assurance of the Walmart brand.