January 21, 2009

Wegmans Offers Free Medicine

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In an effort to help alleviate the economic strain on customers, Wegmans Food Market Inc. has decided to make prescriptions for oral antibiotics free for its Club Shoppers. The program will run during the months when usage of such medicine peaks, from Jan. 7 to March 31.

“We realize that customers and employers are feeling the pinch of economy,” Jeanne Colleluori, Wegmans communications and media specialist. “One way to help people lead healthier lives is by relieving the economic pressure of their pharmaceutical requirements.”

Although Wegmans will not divulge the financial cost of this initiative, the company expects that its customers will save $1 million.

Wegmans’ decision to eliminate costs for antibiotics is consistant with the store’s philosophy to “try to make the right decisions that are going to be best for our shoppers,” Colleluori said. In 2008, Ethisphere Magazine named Danny Wegman one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics,” stating that “Wegmans continues to use their moral compass to influence their business decisions.” In November, Wegmans lowered prices on a number of goods that families buy and need most often.

“Grocery store bills as well as pharmacy bills have to be addressed,” Colleluori said. “This is the time of year where families make trips to doctors.”

Wegmans cut costs on medicine and food for its customers across the country and also decided to stop selling cigarettes early last year.

According to a Wegmans pharmacy clerk, many customers have been taking advantage of the free antibiotics. Furthermore, the Wegmans press office has received a great deal of positive feedback from satisfied customers.

“We have heard from customers, whether it be from phone calls or written letters, to say they have noticed the pharmaceutical and lower food prices and are very appreciative it,” Colleluori said. “It makes us happy because that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Although Ithaca resident Margaret Wood does not buy her medicine at the Wegmans pharmacy, she said she has definitely noticed a difference in food prices.
“I find that I have spent considerably less money when I do my weekly shopping here,” Wood said.

According to Debbie Wright, an employee of Wegmans Nature’s Market, the food sections that have really seen a decrease in prices have been those which are important for a healthy diet.

“The sections of the store that really marked down their food are commercial bakery, meat and cereals,” Wright said.

When looking to the future of Wegmans and its customer care, Colleluori explained that while there are no upcoming initiatives planed, Wegmans employees will continue to look for ways to better serve its customers.

“It’s impossible to predict the future,” Colleluori said. “But we keep listening in order to make our customers as happy as possible.”

Wegmans’ initiative to cut consumer costs on pharmaceutical products will not affect how Gannett Health Services sets its prices, the University said.

“We do not see ourselves in competition with a 72-store supermarket chain serving a much broader community,” Sharon Dittman, associate director of community relations for Gannett, stated in an e-mail. “In our experience, people have different priorities when it comes to filling prescriptions. Price is the most important factor to some, and it’s great that a large corporation like Wegmans is able to offer [a] wintertime special on these low-cost, generic antibiotics for people who give them business … Many of our patients who receive prescriptions for antibiotics are sick and want to start the medication as soon as possible, without having to spend the time, money and energy to go off-campus.”

While Wegmans may be giving its Club Shoppers generic antibiotics free of charge, Ditman explained that Gannett fills these prescriptions for an inexpensive fee of $5 to $10 for students with insurance coverage.

“We do check our prices against market prices quarterly to keep costs at or below,” Ditman stated. “And through the Gannett Assistance Program, our Pharmacy staff help students who can’t afford medications; in 2007-08, Cornell students received over $70,000 in medications through this program.”

Related Content:
Wegmans Supermarket Vows to Lower Prices.
Wegmans to End Sale of Cigarettes.