Saturday, December 02, 2006

Walmart has to hike up $4 drugs in California

Bidness: Lets hear it for California and other states that think about the consumer wallet in these economic times.

The $4 generic drug plan at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has arrived in California with dozens of drugs priced at $9. The world's largest retailer said Friday that 55 different drugs will be sold for $9 in California and eight other states to conform with "loss leader" statutes. The drugs include a wide range of antibiotics, heart pills, diabetes drugs and anti-inflammatory medicines. The reason for the $9 price: The California code forbids anyone from selling something below cost "for the purpose of injuring competitors or destroying competition." Wal-Mart doesn't believe it was charging below cost for the drugs in question, said spokesman Kevin Gardner. But California and other states, including Minnesota and Pennsylvania, calculate costs differently than Wal-Mart does, and the $4 price was deemed too low for those drugs, he said. "We had to have a second-tier price," he said. For simplicity's sake, Wal-Mart priced all 55 drugs at $9 -- high enough to steer clear of the law in those nine states but low enough so it "still saves customers money," Gardner said.

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