Wow, did you see the great consumer news that the media recently spread all across the country? “Wal-Mart to sell generic drugs for $4 a month,” blared the national headlines and news broadcasts!
Gosh, in these days of rip-off drug prices, what a boon it is to have Wal-Mart save all of us consumers with another example of its “Low Prices, Always” approach. It’s almost too good to be true.
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Well, actually, it’s not true. First, the mega-chain is offering the discount in only 15 states, leaving 70-percent of America out. The media establishment, in its rush to give a group hug to one of its biggest advertisers, failed to mention this little detail.
Second, the media swallowed Wal-Mart’s press release whole, showing not an iota of proper journalistic skepticism. Had the media lords done even the slightest bit of sniffing around, they would have found that the corporation’s $4 deal does not apply to the thousands of generic drugs commonly available – but only to 291 of them. But wait, take another sniff – many of the 291 are just different dosages and variations of the same drugs, so, really, only 143 generics are included in Wal-Mart’s “big deal.” But take one more whiff: some of these drugs are already available at other stores for less than $4.
What we have here is a classic bait-and-switch consumer scam fostered by the media. Wal-Mart got millions-of-dollars worth of free advertising falsely suggesting that consumers should switch to the big box store to get low-priced drugs. In fact, study after study has confirmed that independent pharmacies– not Wal-Mart or any other chain – offer the greatest value, both in terms of price and personal attention.
This is Jim Hightower saying… Journalists are supposed to uncover bait-and-switch scams, not promote them. To get more information on big box swindles, call the Institute for Local Self-Reliance: 612-379-3815.
“Wal-Mart’s Drug Deal,” www.tompaine.com, October 23, 2006.