politics of freebies

Maybe I shouldn’t complain. This should be seen as an act of good will by the pharmacy.  But I’m going to.

I made my monthly trip to the pharmacy this morning. Along with the usual sign that advertises that some meds can be bought for $9.99 for 3 months supply, there was a big sign that advertised free diabetes generic medication (see the sign in the photo). At first, I thought nothing of it. But then I started thinking, why is it for only Diabetes that medications become free? Why not any other illnesses, like depression?

I feel like I’m complaining about a technically good thing that the pharmacy is doing, because I’m pretty sure that they were just thinking of ways to alleviate the financial burden for those who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes but cannot afford the medication to treat the disease.  But if we were to argue this point, we need to point out that there are still millions of people who go undiagnosed for mental illnesses because they can’t afford to see a doctor. Are we just assuming that more poor people have diabetes? And since when did diabetes medication become more important to be dispensed than the prescription for antidepressants?

I picked up my $100+ worth of medication and left the building, still tasting that bitterness I somehow developed in my veins over the years.

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2 Comments to “politics of freebies”

  1. My guess is that the pharmacy’s decision to give away (generic) diabetes medications is purely in their own financial interest. Increasingly (and somewhat alarmingly) the margins generated on prescription drugs – especially in the retail space – are narrowing. Chain drug stores generate the vast majority of their profit selling “front-end” merchandise: Diet Coke, Pampers, and the As-Seen-on-TV merchandise.

    Several years ago in the American Drugs, Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. case the big box retailer was taken to task for essentially running the entire pharmacy as a loss leader used to generate foot traffic into the store.

    My guess – and this is only speculation – is that some market research was conducted to show that diabetic patients are more likely to shop for non-prescription merchandise while in the store. So, the logic might have gone, if the pharmacy can take a small loss on those prescriptions, the store will more than make up the difference in sales of non-prescription merchandise.

  2. Jason, thanks for your comment. Your speculation does make sense, though I’d like to think that the pharmacy’s ‘just being nice.’ I can’t decide if I think the free drugs help people to stick with their med schedule, or the people are just being manipulated even further by these stores………probably both.

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