Give me a 'W' 

Hooray for Wal-Mart for taking a big first step to reduce what people are now having to pay for the ridiculous costs the medical drug makers require. Pfizer, Inc., with a revenue of more than $51 billion last year, and several other companies in the United States and abroad are making and selling medicine that too many human beings do not have the money to buy.

So Wal-Mart announced last week that it would start selling some generic medicine for $4 for a month’s supply.

Wal-Mart wanted to test it first in Florida because it has 232 pharmacies in the state and there are so many elderly persons who live there and use these medicines. Next year, Wal-Mart will be offering the $4 drugs in its 3,900 Wal-Marts, Sam’s Clubs and Neighborhood Markets throughout the country.

One good sign was that immediately after Wal-Mart made its announcement, Target Corp., which also has hundreds of pharmacies, said it would meet Wal-Mart’s lower prices immediately in Florida.

As you might expect, Scott Pace, the associate vice president of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, didn’t like the Wal-Mart news. In sort of an acidulous way, he told an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter: “The association thinks this does a disservice to the profession of pharmacy, regardless of what they had set that flat pricing at, by commoditizing prescription medications as a whole. By doing so, it just doesn’t put a value on the knowledge and expertise that the pharmacist brings to the dispensing equation.” He also said he was bothered that this sort of thing would cause patients “to hop from pharmacy to pharmacy to get what the patient perceives as the best price on medications.”

On the other hand, Dr. Joe Thompson, Arkansas’s chief health officer, told the newspaper, “I think that’s a warranted credit to Wal-Mart.”

Most of us who watch TV now know about today’s profession of pharmacy just by watching the Lunesta butterfly on all the networks that goes through your window at night, helping you go to sleep if you rush to the nearest drug store to buy Lunesta.

It used to be that such TV advertising was not allowed, but in 1997 the rules were eased to allow pharmaceutical ads and also doctors were allowed to advertise. U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, a physician, tried to get it stopped, but he was unsuccessful. Frist said, “Drug advertisements are fuel to America’s sky-rocketing prescription drug costs.” How right he was, but he got nowhere. Last year the companies were spending nearly $5 billion for advertising, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Gwen Ifill on PBS says, “When you visit your doctor’s office, the notepads, the ink pens, even the mirror on the wall in the exam room are likely to be imprinted with the name of a pharmaceutical manufacturer, all provided to your physician free of charge.” In 2004, pharmaceutical companies staged 237,000 meetings inviting people to hear physicians talk about their medicine, according to stories in the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper also said that doctors were paid $1,200 to $2,000 by the drug make Merck to talk to their meetings.

And probably like you, often while waiting to get in to see an Arkansas doctor, I see a young, good-looking male or female come in pulling a leather case filled with drug samples. And sometimes they get to see the doctor before I do.

Hooray for Wal-Mart.

It’s possible that the race for governor in November is going to be very close. So it’s annoying when people like Jim Lendall and Rod Bryan suddenly decided to run for the highest job in the state, knowing that they can’t possibly win it. What votes they get will be taken from the two serious and qualified persons most of the people want to be their governor.

Lendall, 59, is a respected hospital nurse who was elected a state legislator for as long as the law allows. Bryan, 36, is a lively fellow who has played college football and has been a dishwasher, musician, waiter and record store owner. But you waste your vote by voting for them.

We who really want either Democrat Mike Beebe or Republican Asa Hutchinson to be elected should be sure to vote and to persuade our sons and daughters who are at least 18 to do the same. Unfortunately, many young people have never bothered to vote in Arkansas. But the Census says that there are 373,938 more people in Arkansas who are at least 18 than the state had 15 years ago. If they go to vote, they can make a difference.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Robert McCord

  • The man behind the camera

    Newspaper photographers never get much money or attention. I know because I got my first job as one in the 1940s. In 1957, a guy named Will Counts learned it when he made the best pictures of the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School.
    • Oct 4, 2007
  • A straw poll

    Max Brantley took the week off. In his place, Robert McCord writes about presidential politics.
    • Mar 15, 2007
  • NLR: Second city no more.

    A long-time North Little Rock resident muses on the arrival of a former governor and current lieutenant governor and looks back at hometowns of governors and presidential contenders from Arkansas.
    • Jan 25, 2007
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

Most Shared

Latest in Bob McCord

  • NLR: Second city no more.

    A long-time North Little Rock resident muses on the arrival of a former governor and current lieutenant governor and looks back at hometowns of governors and presidential contenders from Arkansas.
    • Jan 25, 2007
  • Parting thoughts

    This column is kind of a difficult one for me, and I will tell you why at the end. I have written some things that I believe would make Arkansas a better and more prosperous state.
    • Nov 23, 2006
  • On the winning side

    There were a lot of interesting things that happened all over in the country and in Arkansas at last week’s voting. For the first time I had more winners than losers, and...
    • Nov 16, 2006
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Viewed

  • Gratitude

    Now, more than ever, I find myself thankful for those who resist. Those who remind us of our higher common values. The fact-checkers and truth-tellers. Those who build bridges in communities instead of walls to segregate. The ones who stand up and speak out against injustice.
  • A difference

    How low can a columnist go? On evidence, nowhere near as low as the president of the United States. I'd intended to highlight certain ironies in the career of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The self-anointed moral arbiter of the Senate began her career as a tobacco company lawyer — that is, somebody ill-suited to demand absolute purity of anybody, much less Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
  • Silly acts, good law

    It was unavoidable that the struggle by sexual minorities to gain the equal treatment that the Constitution promises them would devolve into silliness and that the majestic courts of the land would have to get their dignity sullied in order to resolve the issues.
  • Money talks

    Democratic candidates face a dilemma in Arkansas. To take on the GOP members who are firmly entrenched in the state Legislature and Congress, they will need lots of money and lots of votes. The easiest way to get more votes is to spend more money. Obscene amounts of money. And thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and President Trump's judicial appointments, this will be our reality for a long time. The six Republicans who make up our congressional delegation have stopped pretending to care about their constituents. They vote in line with the interests of big corporations and lobbyists. They know what side their bread is buttered on.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A difference

    • History is likely to move with light speed in concluding that in late 2017 society…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: A difference

    • Gillibrand is a tough chick, and she knows she is a political whore, like 95%…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation