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Wal-Mart offers a new 'solution'.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- As it continues to find ways to provide its pharmacy customers with affordable medications, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it will begin offering environmentally friendly albuterol inhalers for $9.

The company notes that the medications will be the lowest-priced inhalers on the market.

Executives say the ReliOn Ventolin HFA inhalers, which are being sold only at Wal-Mart stores, will ease the transition as asthma sufferers are forced to replace their CFC-powered inhalers with new HFA inhalers in the new year to comply with a Food and Drag Administration mandate.

"While some HFA inhalers may sell for as much as $60, our $9 ReliOn Ventolin HFA inhaler will ease the financial burden for sufferers of asthma who should not go without these life-saving medications," divisional merchandise manager for pharmacy Sandy Kinsey says. "As an advocate for our customers, we're committed to ensuring that they have access to affordable medicine they cannot live without."

According to the 2007 National Institutes of Health asthma treatment guidelines, overuse of albuterol is a sign of uncontrolled asthma.

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With 60 metered inhalations, the ReliOn Ventolin HFA inhaler helps both patients and health care professionals monitor and track usage via the dose counter to identify overuse of albuterol. It also helps patients track how many puffs remain in their inhaler so they do not run out of their rescue medication when they need it most.

The $9 inhalers are the latest low-cost medication that Wal-Mart is offering asthma patients and acts as a complement to its low-cost genetic drug program.

Under that program asthma patients can get 90 albuterol 2-mg tablets for $4 or 270 tablets for $10, 60 albuterol 4-mg tablets for $4 or 180 tablets for $10, and 120 mL of albuterol 2-mg/5-mL syrup for $4 or 360 mL for $10.

Earlier this year Wal-Mart rolled out the third phase of its generics prescription program, giving patients the option of getting a 90-day supply of 350 different generic medications for $10 per prescription. Previously the program only offered 30-day supplies for $4 per prescription.

In addition, the third phase of the program expanded the number of low-cost generics for women and offered more than 1,000 over-the-counter medications for less than $4 apiece.

"More and more people find health care, and particularly prescribed medicines, difficult to afford," senior vice president of health and wellness Dr. John Agwunobi said in May when the program was expanded.

"We're succeeding in our efforts to deliver simple, affordable, quality pharmacy solutions for families struggling with the rising costs of health care. Our customers--and their budgets--are seeing a dramatic difference."

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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Jan 19, 2009
Words:434
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