[See commentary at the end.]
Publix supermarket chain said today it will make seven common prescription antibiotics available for free, joining other major retailers in trying to lure customers to their stores with cheap medications.
The oral antibiotics, representing the most commonly filled at the chain's pharmacies, will be available at no cost to anyone with a prescription as often as they need them, Publix CEO Charlie Jenkins Jr. said. Fourteen-day supplies of the seven drugs will be available at all 684 of the chain's pharmacies in five Southern states. The prescription antibiotics available under the program are amoxicillin, cephalexin, penicillin VK, erythromycin, ampicillin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, and ciprofoxacin.
Gov. Charlie Crist went to a suburban Fort Myers store to help the company make the announcement and to praise the Lakeland-based employee-owned company, one of the dominant retailers in the region."It can't be any more affordable than free," Crist said. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kmart and other retailers already offer discounted drug programs. But Publix Super Markets Inc. officials say the company is the first large regional chain to offer certain drugs at no cost. In addition to Florida, the company operates stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
With health care costs one of the biggest challenges facing many Americans, Crist said that the private sector's involvement in the solution was "a great trend."
Jenkins acknowledged that increasing pharmacy sales was a part of the company's motivation, but said the company also wanted to contribute to that trend. "Frankly, we're interested in building our pharmacy business," said Jenkins. "But moreover, we want to help the citizens of our state have affordable health care, and we thought this was just a good start in doing that."
Barbara Lemay, who was shopping in the Publix where Crist and the company made the announcement, said it would be a good start for her. "I've been on antibiotics occasionally, and to get anything free with the price of medications today is phenomenal," she said. "People just can't afford the medications. You have no insurance, you're looking at hundreds of dollars a month."
Lemay, who gets Social Security benefits, said if she is prescribed one of the antibiotics she definitely would go to Publix to get it, and said it could save her "thousands of dollars."
Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration and a pediatrician, said many of the antibiotics are prescribed for children, and he noted that Florida has 3.6 million uninsured people and many who have some insurance but no coverage for prescription drugs. "So I hope (Publix stores) are ready," Agwunobi said, predicting a heavy response.
Wal-Mart last year started offering hundreds of prescription drugs of all different kinds, ranging from diabetes medication to high blood pressure drugs, for $4. It hopes it can draw more shoppers into its stores who may come for prescriptions and then stay to buy in other departments.
Kmart, a unit of Sears Holding Corp., began last month offering a 90-day supply of generic drugs for $15. Now, more than 300 drugs are included in that program.
Speaking for all us old codgers and crones, I'd like to point something out. It is not so much the cost of the medication, as high as that is for people on fixed incomes. It's the cost of the goddamned doctor to write the prescription in the first place!
If any politician out there really has any genuine concern for the increasing number of of uninsured or wretchedly underinsured White people who suffer under the greed-based "health care system" we have in this country--which I doubt anyone really does--here's a tip. The main thing you want to do is break the American Medical Association's stranglehold on health care as well as that of the insurance companies.
For the uninsured and the Caucasian, those of us who are not eligible for the government handout programs like the illegal aliens are, and who will be dunned without mercy and their homes threatened by collection agencies to pay crushing medical bills, medical care is for all intents and purposes unavailable in this country. Offered the choice between incurring bills that will lose your house to a collection agency on the one hand, and not seeking treatment on the other, most people opt to stay away from the doctor, take vitamins and Thera-Flu, accept the fact that they will die young and hope to God it's not too bad when it comes.
Most doctors demand to see anywhere from between $150 and $200 per visit, cash on the counter before the nurse will even let you fill out the forms. The "doctors" you get at the cheap clinics or the Veterans Administration are almost invariably Third Worlders who speak broken English at best, who got their degree from the University of Rangoon medical school or some such place, and who may well be in the country illegally just like the majority of their patients. Either that, or occasionally elderly White doctors who reek of breath mints and Listerine to try and cover the smell of whiskey on their breath.
Some of these doctors don't even bother to feign any interest in middle-aged White patients who are clearly past their productive prime, and who can no longer fulfill the White man's primary purpose in the American scheme of things, which is to pay for it all and keep a shit-eating grin on his face while he does so.
Then when you do finally get five minutes of the character's time he takes your blood pressure, makes a show of consulting his Physicians' Desk Reference, and finally writes you a prescription for something that may or may not help you, which you have to pay for out of your own pocket (not his fee), and which may or may not have anything to do with whatever is wrong with you. You just have to trust him on that, and hope that in the "lick and a promise" examination he gives you he has guessed more or less correctly. Oh, sure, you can get a full examination with tests if you want--for a thousand dollars or so (the tests are what kill you financially and start the bill collectors calling.)
The prescription he gives you, of course, is only for three months. That way you must come back and plunk down more cash on his counter to get it renewed after 90 days. He wants you coming back at least four times a year and plopping down that green. His main interest in keeping you alive is so you'll keep coming back for those $150-$200 visits--just to get a little piece of paper for some chemicals which may or may not do you any good, and probably have side effects which are worse than the symptoms they ostensibly cure.
America. We have to kill it, before it kills us.