Wal-Mart and the Medical-Pharmaceutical Complex

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The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on Wal-Mart’s push to get into the drug and vaccination market. It is said that Wal-Mart will now offer vaccinations beyond the standard infectious diseases, because flu and pneumonia just aren’t profitable enough anymore. Thus Wal-Mart is set to start pushing drugs and vaccinations. I find this snippet from the article to be quite telling, especially if one reads between the lines.

The moves have boosted Wal-Mart’s health-and-wellness business segment that includes pharmacy services and over-the-counter drugs and which accounted for 11% of the company’s $264.2 billion in U.S. sales last fiscal year.

“The goal is to take advantage of the fact these individuals are in our stores shopping for groceries every day,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, Wal-Mart’s president of health and wellness, and a former U.S. assistant secretary for health. “We want our customers to begin to see us as a destination not just for nutrition but for preventative health care.”

Take advantage … while they shop, oh, for stuff like paper towels, canned veggies, and Mr. Clean? Someone should assist Mr. Agwunobi in defining “preventative” health care. A spokesman from the U.S. Health Department is quoted as saying, “Making vaccines more convenient is likely to improve their uptake.”

4:19 pm on August 26, 2012