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    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Price Wars: Remember when gas stations used to compete with one another to see who could sell the cheapest gas? The phenomenon is happening now with drug stores:

    Giant Eagle announced Thursday that it will provide 56 generic prescription antibiotics and cough medicines for free for a limited time in all 93 of its Ohio stores.

    The Pittsburgh-based grocery store chain also is permanently slashing the price to $4 for a one-month supply of another 292 commonly used generic prescriptions.

    Why would they do that? Because it's a better deal than people are getting at WalMart:

    Giant Eagle's move follows last week's announcement by Wal-Mart that it is lowering its prices on 314 commonly used generic prescriptions to $4 for a month's supply at all of its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in Ohio. Rival retailer Target matched the deal in all of its pharmacies statewide.

    Only the really big chains whose real mission is to sell things other than drugs are doing this. They get the customers in the door for drugs and hope that they browse around and make other, more purchases while they wait for their prescriptions.

    The less generous part of me always wonders if this isn't the reason the Ohio Pharmacy Board is so hostile to electronic prescribing. They say they're worried about drug diversion, but if that were the case, they could just prohibit e-prescribing of controlled substances. By making it difficult for prescriptions to be sent ahead to the pharmacy, they improve the chances of browsing and spending behavior by the pharmacy customers.

    I suspect this is why Target, WalMart, and Giant Eagle all make it difficult to phone in and fax prescriptions. Chains that are historically primarily drugstores rather than superstores or grocery chores, such as CVS and Walgreen's, are much more accomodating when it comes to faxing in prescriptions. They have their own forms for refills that they fax to physicians that can be faxed back. I wonder how they'll compete with these $4 and under generics?

    posted by Sydney on 11/05/2006 08:41:00 AM 0 comments


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