Medication and its pricing is always a hot-button topic, and this has spun off into a number of other discussions, including the purchase of medication online. This is a controversial issue for a number of reasons, and one that most individuals need to draw their own conclusions about.
Ignoring the legality of purchasing medication online, which is well-outside the scope of this article, the controversy breaks down to the quality of the medication and the effects online resources have on the industry as a whole.
The debate bears a strong resemblance to the argument over medical patents and generic medications. Detractors are quick to ask why any individual would pursue a name-brand medication like Nexium when they can simply Buy Generic Nexium online, and supporters tend to immediately inquire “Why, indeed?”
For medications that are effectively equivalent to their generic forms, the lower prices that are available online are compelling. However, this does come with the question of reliability. Online pharmacies are varied in their reputation and the quality of what they sell, so careful research must be carried out, and this again calls into question the legality of an online transaction in the first place.
Possessing insurance that covers a name brand medication generally renders the argument moot, as the co-pay will usually be far lower than the price of a generic medication online. However, for those that do not have access to medical insurance, or find that their medication is not covered by it, the question of whether or not to seek medication online is a difficult one that is hard to ignore.
In some ways, it seems inevitable that stores would get on board with price matching. The rise of “showrooming” and increased transparency in the marketplace all but forces retailers to either match prices of competing stores and websites or risk losing sales to them. And yet, even as pricing is becoming more transparent, the price-matching policies employed by some retailers remain something of a mystery to shoppers.
In Walmart’s case, customers have complained because sometimes stores would match prices of slightly different advertised products — seeded vs. seedless oranges, for instance — and sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes price matches weren’t allowed on identical products either. The policies seemed randomly enforced, apparently determined by the mood of cashiers and the willingness of store managers to play ball, leading to frustration on behalf of mystified customers.