March 28, 2009

Wal-Mart pharmacy teams with employers

U.S. retailer Wal-Mart says it is in talks with several companies to lower prescription drug prices for the employers.

Michael Struhs, director of business development at Wal-Mart, told viewers during an Internet forum that a pilot prescription drug program the retailer has set up with Caterpillar Inc. has shown enough promise to expand the effort to other employers, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

We hope we will drive down costs for the entire healthcare industry, Struhs said. That is what we do. We operate efficiently and that allows us to lower costs, and those savings are passed on to our customers.

Under the program, Wal-Mart forgoes the $5 co-payment for Caterpillar workers on any generic drugs if they purchase them at a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club pharmacy, thus giving employees an incentive to fill their prescriptions at Wal-Mart rather than elsewhere, the newspaper said.

The set-up is unique because it reportedly eliminates the middleman -- a pharmacy benefit manager -- from equation, avoiding price mark-ups by having employees buy prescription drugs directly from Wal-Mart.