Way back in 2006 Walmart fired a serious shot across the bows of the Bentonvile Behemoths pharmacy competitors by announcing $4/month prices on a wide range of generic pharmaceuticals. Of course there were twists and turns, but the company pushed ahead. Now Walmart seems intent on taking a further step in the price war for drugs. Reuters reports:
Retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores and U.S. drug distributor McKesson said on Monday they would expand an alliance for jointly procuring generic medicines in an attempt to lower costs. Walmart, which has been sourcing generics with McKesson for several years, has been looking to strengthen its health-related business as well as cut costs in its pharmacy operations, which emerged as a significant drag on earnings last year. The deal is aimed at “using our combined size and scale to drive efficiencies,” George Riedl, senior vice president and president of the health and wellness division at Walmart in the U.S., said in a statement.
As long as the Food and Drug Administration keeps a close eye (and that may be a lot to ask in today's environment of regulatory budget slashing) this could be good for consumers. What I find fascinating here is that this use of size and scale to drive efficiencies is precisely why many have been urging congress to repeal laws specifically preventing the government from doing just than and drastically bring down the cost of drugs for all Americans. That would be federal overreach, of course. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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