I get loads of questions about where to find discounted meds and other diabetes supplies. Especially over at the DiabeticConnect community, costs are one of the hottest topics. Until now, I’ve been referring folks to Patient Assistance Programs, neglecting the fact that if you have a little bit of cash on hand, you can get your D-stuff for amazing prices at your local Wal-Mart.

Seriously. I was pretty stunned when I walked by the Wal-Mart Pharmacy booth at the ADA Conference last week and saw the price points:

Glucose Meters starting at $9

Testing Strips starting at .39 cents each (!)

A ReliOn home A1c test kit for $9

ReliOn/Novolin insulin for $23.67 per vial

And get this: a 30-day prescription for just $4, or a 90-day supply for $10, for hundreds of oral drugs, including:

  • Metformin
  • Glyburide
  • Glipizide
  • Glimepiride
  • Lovastatin
  • Lisinopril
  • Levothyroxine

and many more, including arthritis and pain drugs, gastrointestinal meds, asthma and infection treatments, etc., etc.

Wow.  There was actually new research data presented at the ADA showing that Wal-Mart and Medco Mail Order are currently the least expensive drug vendors. Some excerpts from this report:

The total monthly out-of-pocket price for all 10 drugs most commonly prescribed to diabetes patients for any indication ranged from a low of $428.35 with Medco to a high of $641.90 with Rite Aid.

Dr. Jackness and colleagues found that metformin sold for $4.00 in the generic drug discount program at Wal-Mart and Target and for $5.00 at Kmart. But the local neighborhood pharmacies averaged $38.95 and pharmacy chain Rite Aid charged $39.99.

Boo on Rite Aid, I say!

And even though Wal-Mart may have taken some unethical missteps with its employment practices in the past, you have to appreciate their efforts to offer some financial relief to people with diabetes.

The press reports that so far, “the company’s affordable pharmacy program has saved customers more than $1 billion. That number is expected to grow this year since customers began taking advantage of ReliOn diabetic testing supplies last fall.”

Ugh… am I actually plugging Wal-Mart?  Well hell, I’d plug anyplace where a 90-day supply of vital diabetes meds costs just $10 — even without health insurance.