Winter Spawns Free Antibiotic Programs

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2009,

Grocery stores fight big-box retailers by giving away generics

Continuing the trend started by Wal-Mart with low pricing on selected generics, some grocery chains are now giving away medicine, provided that a valid prescription is presented.

Upping the competitive ante in generic prescription drug retail sales, Wegmans Food Markets Inc. and Giant Food LLC have separately unveiled programs in which they offer antibiotics for free through the winter months.

On January 6, Rochester, NY-based Wegmans Food Markets Inc. announced that it will fill customers’ prescriptions for nine types of drugs through March 31. The drugs include amoxicillin, penicillin and tetracycline. The move follows by less than a week an announcement from Landover, MD-based Giant Food LLC that it will give away some 36 generic prescription antibiotics through March 21.


And Boise, ID-based Albertson’s LLC has announced an expansion of its discount offering to include a 90-day supply of more than 500 generics for $10.99 as part of its Rx-tra Savings program, which launched in October. Albertson’s stores throughout the South and Southwest will now carry cholesterol and high-blood-pressure medications, as well as women’s health medications, according to an announcement.

The Giant program, which is also being offered by sister company Stop & Shop, began on January 2 and covers a 14-day supply of nine common antibiotics, including amoxicillin, erythromycin, and penicillin, in various doses and dosage forms. The only requirement for receiving the free antibiotics is a doctor’s prescription, according to the company. Giant has 184 supermarkets and 164 pharmacies in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and D.C.

A 14-day supply

At Wegmans, customers holding the chain’s shoppers club card are eligible for a 14-day supply of nine generic antibiotics in oral dosage forms. The 72-store supermarket chain covering New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland estimates that the program has the potential to save its customers approximately $1 million.

The free offer may be intended to help the supermarkets hold onto customers who might otherwise visit Wal-Mart and Target for their inexpensive drug programs. Both Target and Wal-Mart said they would not try to compete with Wegmans and Giant, but would continue filling prescriptions for hundreds of generic drugs for $4 each, according to a report in Maryland’s The Daily Record.

The $4 plan dovetails with Wal-Mart’s customer demographics. But it also covers treatments for chronic conditions, which will likely ensure both customer loyalty and cash flow, says Michael Chace, senior director for custom solutions for Thomson Scientific (see “Momentum Builds for Generic Producers,” Pharmaceutical Commerce, August 2007.)