UnNews:Wal*Mart generic drug plan draws flak from tweakers

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Wal*Mart generic drug plan draws flak from tweakers

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21 September 2006


Meth heads left out in the cold by Wal*Mart drug plan.

NEW YORK - Wal*Mart's plans to begin selling nearly 300 generic prescription drugs for a sharply reduced price, offering a big lure for bargain-seekers, has many long-time Wal*Mart customers feeling slighted. Namely, the nearly 85 percent of Wal*Mart customers who use crystal methamphetamine, also known as "meth," or "crank."

The world's biggest retailer said Thursday that it will test its sales program, in which 291 generic drugs will be sold at $4 for a month's supply, in Florida. The drugs involved provide treatments for conditions ranging from allergies to high-blood pressure, but will not include crystal meth, a popular recreational drug used by the lower-class white people who frequent Wal*Mart.

"I just think it ain't right, that's all," commented long-haul truck driver Buddy Moinson. "Sellin them other drugs cheap like that when I still gotta find that kid who cooks up that meth in his trailer and pay top-dollar for it, too."

Selling generic drugs at prices that don't offer much if any margin for profit could serve two purposes for Wal-Mart: It could draw customers away from big pharmacy chains to Wal-Mart stores that offer a much wider array of products, and it could help Wal-Mart with an image problem stemming from its policies on health insurance for employees.

"We'd love to also be able to help our tweaking friends, as well, since they represent such a major component of our customer base, but we're not able to do it at this time," Bill Simon, executive vice president of the company's professional services division, said in announcing the plan at a Tampa, Fla., store. "Hopefully some time in the near future."

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. officials said the reduced price represents a savings to the customer of up to 70 percent on some drugs, but that amount will not be applied to crystal meth.

The program will be launched on Friday at 65 Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sams' Club pharmacies in the Tampa Bay area and will be expanded to the entire state in January.

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