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Publix Super Markets announced yesterday that seven popular antibiotics will be available at no charge for people with valid prescriptions. The free antibiotic, according to the company, will be made available to customers regardless of their heath care coverage and will be provided in up to two-week supplies.

The prescription antibiotics available under the program include:

• Amoxicillin
• Cephalexin
• Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim (SMZ-TMP)
• Ciprofloxacin (excluding ciprofloxacin XR)
• Penicillin VK
• Ampicillin
• Erythromycin (excluding Ery-Tab)

“At Publix, we’re working hard to develop a complete health and wellness program,” said Charlie Jenkins Jr. “From the nutrition information in our stores to the services in our pharmacies, Publix is committed to the health and wellness of our customers. I’m pleased that we can make this program available and use it to further serve the needs of our customers and their families.”

Publix estimates that the now-free antibiotics account for almost 50 percent of generic, pediatric prescriptions filled at the supermarkets’ pharmacies.

The program reportedly mimics one already begun by Meijer in the Midwest.
KC's View:
In a game of “can you top this?”, it makes sense that the only way to beat Wal-Mart’s cheap generic drug program would be to give them away.

It used to be that people were satisfied with a free lollipop. Now, they’re going to expect free antibiotics.

What I don’t quite understand, and what I suspect could worry consumers, is exactly how all this works. On the one hand, all we hear about is how expensive the US health care system is and how so many people can’t get appropriate care. On the other hand, some retailers are offering cheap or free drugs, other chains are opening inexpensive health care clinics, and one can only wonder what the next health-related innovation will be.

It begins to sound like, depending on where you live, health care is both highly available and pretty inexpensive.

Which I would think this sort of dents all the various health care arguments being made by people running for office.

But as I say, I’m not sure how this all works. But neither do most consumers, and they may well be as confused as I am.