Meijer Now Offering Free Prescription Fills

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Filling prescriptions often costs more than patients want to pay. But an announcement Monday by Meijer Superstores is changing that.

Every Meijer pharmacy is now offering free prescription drugs. There's no fine print and no special qualifications. The news has patients and doctors elated.

"I think this is a great thing," says pediatrician Dr. Ken Stringer. "I never saw this ever occurring!"

Seven generic drugs are included in this new plan-- one from every major antibiotic classification. They are Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Cephalexin, SMZ-TMP, Ciprofloxacin, Ampicillin and Erythromycin. These drugs, especially Amoxicillin and Penicillin, will be especially useful as flu, strep throat and ear infection seasons arrive.

The drugs will be dispensed in 14-day quantities, and free refills are allowed with the doctor's O.K.

Dr. Stringer says the free drugs will help financially challenged patients immensely.

"This will go a long way for those who fall through the cracks, who don't receive state money but need it. It will be very beneficial," he says.

Meijer officials say this change has been in the works for two years. Shopper Anne Sagolla sees the bigger picture for Michigan residents, whose jobs and health care have seen better days.

"Financially, it would mean a tremendous amount to us. But others who are in worse situations, it will be even better. It will be great!" she says.

A Meijer spokeswoman says Meijer can afford to give away free drugs because they're investing in the potential of future customers. They hope to initiate relationships with new customers brought in primarily from the no-cost drugs. But stores like Target and Wal-Mart, which now offer similar programs, might prove to be competition.

In any case, Dr. Stringer hopes this will set a good example for other companies. He says it's everyone's responsibility to ensure those less fortunate with health coverage.

Meijer has no plans to expand this program. The free drugs are available now, but there's no rush to get them; they're here to stay.