Free Statins in Aisle 6: US Supermarket Chain Giving Away Atorvastatin

March 18, 2013

ROCHESTER, NY — In an attempt to gain a competitive edge over other retail outlets, Wegmans, a US supermarket chain with stores in the mid-Atlantic region, is offering free atorvastatin to its customers. The generic medication is available only to those with a prescription, but the hope is that the grocery store gains new customers by offering to fill these prescriptions at their pharmacies for no cost.

The company intends to keep atorvastatin free until the end of 2013, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, after initially planning to end the promotion at the end of April[1]. The company has not said how many new customers it has gained as a result of the promotion.

Although supermarket loss leaders, the products sold at very low prices to draw customers into the store, typically include items such as soda, chips, or paper towels, it is not unheard of for US supermarkets and pharmacies to use generic medications as loss leaders. ShopRite gives seven diabetes drugs away for free as well as several antibiotics, notes the Inquirer. In addition, Meijer, a Midwestern store that sells everything from groceries to clothes to electronics, also gives atorvastatin away with a prescription.

Lipitor, the branded version of atorvastatin made by Pfizer, was once a blockbuster medication for the company. In 2011, according to IMS Health, it had revenue of $8.2 billion. The patent expired in late 2011.