Generic Drugs: Can I Save at Walmart and Other Big-Box Stores?

Savings Available at Big-Box Stores

A pharmacist counting antibiotic pills
A pharmacist counts antibiotic pills for a patient. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Generic drugs are necessary for millions throughout the world, but they can be expensive. Thus, people are always looking to save on generic drugs, and where such savings can be found is a common question. 

Question: When it comes to generic drugs, can I Save at Walmart and Other Big-Box Stores? Furthermore, do I need to have a prescription plan in order to get the low-cost drugs from Walmart?

Answer:

Walmart and similar big-box stores such as Costco and Target offer commonly prescribed generic drugs at a low cost. Several large supermarket chains have also started similar programs, and some, including Stop and Shop in the Northeast, offer free generic antibiotics.

You do not need to have drug insurance or be part of a prescription plan in order to take advantage of these low-cost drug programs. All you need is a prescription from your doctor! Before speaking with your doctor, you can visit the pharmacy section of the big-box stores’ websites to find a list of available cheap generics: 

Savings Based on Generic Medications

In general, generic medications can save you up to 80% on the cost of a prescription compared with the brand name drug. Ask your doctor if there is a generic drug available to treat your condition and have him or her write a prescription.

Depending on the generic medication your doctor prescribes, you may be able to buy your medication for $4 for a 30-day supply or $10 for a 90-day supply at one of the big-box stores.

Not all generic medications are available, however. The low-cost programs do not offer generic medications that have just become available in a generic form.

It takes time for the price to drop once a medication is sold as a generic, usually six months to one year, or even longer.

Savings Examples

In November 2009, a large drugstore chain charged $302 for a 90-day supply of Paxil 10 mg, a medication used to treat depression and anxiety. At the same drugstore, the generic version (paroxetine) cost $90; however, Walmart offered a 90-day supply of paroxetine for $10.

In November 2009, a large drugstore chain charged $136 for a 90-day supply of Cardura 2 mg, a medication used to treat an enlarged prostate (BPH). At the same drugstore, the generic version (doxazosin) cost $44; however, Target offered a 90-day supply of doxazosin for $10.

Other Drug Savings at Big-Box Stores

Target and Walmart also offer savings on several commonly used women’s medications, which they sell for $9 for a 30-day supply and $24 for a 90-day supply.

For example, both stores offer alendronate for $24 for a 90-day supply. This medication is used to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

The brand name version Fosamax usually costs more than $225 for a 90-day supply.

What if I Have a Health Plan?

If you have a typical health plan with drug coverage, you will most likely be paying a low copay for generic medications. In some cases your drug plan copay may be lower than the box stores generic cost or it may be slightly higher. If your copay is much higher – for example $30, or more for a 90-day supply of your medication – you can get a prescription from your doctor and use it at a big-box store.

If you have a Medicare Part D prescription plan and you have to deal with the donut hole – the gap in drug coverage when you have to pay 100% of the cost of your medication – if appropriate, you can have your doctor write a prescription for a generic medication on the Walmart or Target generic list.

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