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Law change will allow $4 prescriptions in Wisconsin


UNDATED (WSAU) Wisconsinites are one step closer to taking advantage of those four-dollar prescriptions they keep hearing about. On a voice vote yesterday, the Assembly agreed to end the minimum mark-up law for prescription sales only.

Wal-mart says it has to charge nine-dollars in Wisconsin for some of the drugs it advertises at four-dollars nationally. Folks must read the fine print to see that in the advertising – and Milwaukee Democrat Jon Richards says he’s happy to remove that fine print.

The mark-up law dates back to the Depression. It requires stores to charge above wholesale, so the big retailers don’t drive the mom-and-pop stores out of business. Manitowoc Democrat Bob Ziegelbauer says the new bill opens the door to that kind of predatory pricing. Pharmacies opposed the bill, for fears they won’t be able to match the drug prices offered by the big stores. They also said it would result in seniors having their drug records at more than one pharmacy – maybe leading to more mistakes.

But Governor Jim Doyle says he’ll support the bill if it gets to his desk. It now goes to the Senate. Last year, a federal judge said Wisconsin’s minimum mark-up law for gasoline was unconstitutional. But it still applies to other products.