Wal-Mart has a bright spot

So the company has been accused of paying women less than men, employing illegal immigrants and imposing morality by censoring the music it sells. That doesn’t mean it’s all bad.

Many consumer activists say Wal-Mart has a sordid past (and even present). But while we can’t speak of how Sam Walton would react if he knew what his store had become, we can say Wal-Mart is making at least one step in the right direction. And just so everything’s clear, that’s only one step, but we’ll take it.

The Chicago Sun-Times on Sept. 22 reported that Wal-Mart stores will now offer roughly 300 different types of generic prescription drugs for just $4. Amazing. Who knew that Wal-Mart had a heart?

Of course, Wal-Mart’s a business, so they must be making money off the deal somehow.

Just when we thought that Wal-Mart couldn’t do anything more than attract the poor and the conservative, it pulls on the heart strings and the pocket books of a broader demographic. The Sept. 25 Business Week hits this point home by noting that a Wal-Mart shopper is generally conservative and “pro-gun.” Not surprising. But with this move to make some drugs more affordable, it should now rope in a wider range of customers.

As proof that these new prices had an impact, the stocks for CVS and Walgreens dropped instantly after the announcement. And Target announced it would match prices. So let’s just hope Wal-Mart can keep these discounts going.

Wal-Mart’s action proves that the big prescription drug companies do not need to make as big of a profit, as noted in the Baltimore Sun on Sept. 25. The plan, however, does not include brand-name drugs.

Regardless, this deal will make more drugs available to more people, and stop forcing people to track down prescriptions from Canada. Will this perhaps even be a move toward better prescription drug benefits from insurance companies or reduced prices coming directly from the providers? Maybe not, but at least this is progress.

It’s true that a lot of people loathe the retailer. And is tempting people with low prices drug prices just a gimmick to suck them into buying other products? It doesn’t matter – cheaper drug prices benefit all consumers.

Yes, the only thing worse than Wal-Mart is prescription drug companies, but it’s good to know that the people running Wal-Mart do have souls.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.