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Surprise package: Will WMT take mail national?


BENTONVILLE, Ark. —A national rollout of the newest wrinkle to Walmart’s generic-pricing program appears imminent given the measured pace at which the retailer has layered on prior enhancements to the now three-year-old pricing initiative.

The most recent addition to the company’s affordable pharmacy program is a $10 mail-order option for a 90-day supply of generics. Walmart began offering the $10 mail-order option in May in Michigan and last month extended the pricing program to 22 additional states in the Northeast and Midwest. The company offered no indication when the service would be available in Western and Southern states, but the phased implementation is reminiscent of the launch of the $4 generic program. It was introduced to the Tampa, Fla., market in September 2006 and by early October was extended statewide. In late October, additional states were added, and by the end of November, the program was available nationwide.

It would appear to be a matter of when, not if, Walmart will add the $10 generic mail-order option to additional states, especially because the company already offers nationwide mail service and can adjust pricing without introducing the type of store-level operational impacts associated with the increased volumes that resulted from the launch of the $4 program. And the $10 mail-order option is merely an extension of an existing pricing tier that was added to the retail program in May 2008.

Taken collectively, Walmart contends that its generic-pricing initiatives have saved the company’s customers more than $2 billion during the past three years, and the addition of a mail option will result in further savings by improving access to affordable medicines for people who don’t live near a Walmart pharmacy.

“Americans deserve access to quality, affordable health care and medications, yet some families today aren’t filling prescriptions because of high costs or lack of health insurance,” John Agwunobi, SVP and president of Walmart’s health-and-wellness division said when the mail-order program was expanded last month. “Walmart strives to find innovative new pharmacy solutions that better serve all of our customers’ needs, which is why we’re so excited to offer this program to even more Americans.”

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