Deeply discounted medications: Implications of generic prescription drug wars

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Pharmacy Services; Drugs, Generic; Economic Competition; Humans; Prescription Fees; Quality of Health Care


Health Services Research | Primary Care


OBJECTIVE: To describe the history of generic prescription pricing programs at major pharmacy chains and their potential implications on prescribing, quality of care, and patient safety.

DATA SOURCES: Publicly available generic prescription discount program drug lists as of May 1, 2009.

SUMMARY: Fierce competition among major pharmacy chains such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart has led to a generic prescription pricing war with unclear public health implications. Introduced in 2006, currently 7 of the 10 largest pharmacy chains advertise a version of a deeply discounted medication (DDM) program, accounting for more than 25,000 locations nationally. By early 2008, almost 70 million Americans had used these programs. Although DDM programs lower drug costs for many patients, DDM formularies include potentially ineffective or harmful medications, have the potential to influence physician prescribing behavior, and may impair pharmacists' ability to review complete drug-dispensing records.

CONCLUSION: DDMs are widespread but have the potential for unintended consequences on patients, providers, and the health care system. A systematic review of DDMs needs to evaluate the clinical, economic, and system-level implications of such programs.

DOI of Published Version



J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2010 Nov-Dec;50(6):752-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the American Pharmacists Association : JAPhA

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID