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Wegmans drops prices on generic drugs Nearly 400 medications will see some discounts

Starting Sunday, consumers with a Shoppers Club card will find lower prices on 389 generic prescription medications at Wegmans pharmacies.

Wegmans announced Wednesday it will implement company-wide price reductions of select generic drugs, offering 30-day prescriptions of certain generics for $4. The same set of drugs will be available in a 90-day supply for $10.

A full list of the prescription medications included in the price cut will be released on the Rochester-based company's Web site, Wegmans.com, on Sunday. An example is the cholesterol drug Pravastatin, for which a 30-day supply currently retails at $65.99. Starting Sunday, it will cost $4. Wegmans expects 3.6 million new and existing prescriptions will be affected annually, saving consumers more than $15 million.

"We know other companies are offering similar discount programs, and we were worried customers would cherry pick prices and risk drug interactions," said Mark Kroetsch, pharmacy manager at the Amherst Street Wegmans. "We see there is a tremendous need for [discounted medications] in the community."

The company began offering select generics for $11.99 per 90-day supply in 2006, shortly after Wal-Mart began selling generics at $4 per 30-day supply. In May, Wal-Mart expanded its discounted offering to include a 90-day supply of select generic drugs for $10. It also trimmed prices on certain women's medications and over-the-counter drugs.

Wegmans' newest drug formulary matches all the drugs currently offered in Wal-Mart's $4 and $10 program, and adds about 90 more. Wal-Mart, with its increased SuperCenter grocery offerings, has proved fierce competition for Wegmans, especially as cash-strapped consumers begin comparison shopping more carefully.

Wegmans' new pharmacy pricing is its latest move in a cost-cutting campaign that includes free generic oral antibiotics during peak cold and flu season and lower prices across several categories of what it said are the company's most commonly purchased household and grocery items.

The success of the free antibiotic program and everyday low pricing movement lead to the extension of discounted pharmacy pricing, Kroetsch said.

"We got some great feedback. We realized how overwhelming the need was in the community [for discounted prescriptions] and how much people appreciated the program," he said.

Lowering prices is a shrewd move in today's economy, said Arun Jain, professor of marketing at the University at Buffalo School of Management. It's especially timely as news surfaces of recession-weary consumers cutting back on prescription drug costs to save money. The program will not only create goodwill in the community, he said, but should have a healthy effect on the company's bottom line.

"It's a way to show customers, 'We feel your pain,' and at the same time, by taking a small hit on pharmacy profit, they're protecting the rest of the grocery basket," he said.

e-mail: schristmann@buffnews.com

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