A Wal-Mart store sign in Illinois
A Wal-Mart store sign in Illinois - 


SCOTT JAGOW: Wal-Mart said today it's slashing prices on nearly 300 generic drugs. The discounts start tomorrow in Tampa, Florida. Wal-Mart hopes to expand it to all of Florida by January and to other states sometime next year. Workers and customers can get medications covering everything from allergies to high blood pressure to depression. Some drugs that usually cost $10 to $30 a month will drop down to just $4. Ashley Milne-Tyte looks at what's behind this plan.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Critics have lambasted Wal-Mart for providing inadequate healthcare for its workers.

With this initiative, pharmaceuticals consultant David Webster says, the retailer is achieving multiple goals: blunting criticism of its healthcare policies, becoming a retail health center in its own right, and, it hopes, growing its prescription drugs business by poaching market share from other pharmacies.

He says Wal-Mart's vast size has much to do with its ability to offer cheap drugs.

DAVID WEBSTER: "By the virtues of their buying power, they can certainly exact discounts from prescription drug manufacturers and wholesalers."

Another advantage, he says is that Wal-Mart may be able to capture more business from branded prescriptions.

In New York I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.