CVS drug prices takes on Wal-Mart's generic drug prices -- with a gimmicky twist

As Wal-Mart has taken the lead in lowering prices on generic drugs among brick-and-mortar retailers, the major drug chains have been slow to respond. Walgreens came around first, and now CVS has finally responded — with a $9.99 price point on a 90-day supply of about 400 different medications starting later this month.

Despite the fact that CVS is a day late and dollar short on reducing prices on generics, its announcement got some surprisingly high-profile media coverage from the likes of the Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times. Why, you might wonder? Because of an added gimmick that won’t do much for healthcare consumers — but that has obviously been good for PR.

The gimmick? To “bundle its program with medical care from its in-store clinics.”

Sounds great — till you realize what this “bundle” consists of. You pay $10 per year for a CVS Health Savings Pass, and you get the lower generic drug price and a 10 percent discount at CVS MinuteClinics.

Ten whole percent? Consider our healthcare crisis solved.

Of course, the tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to pay their prescription drug bills each month know that the problem has never been low-cost generics, but drugs that aren’t among the 400 on the lists of Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger or CVS. The drugs that bust family budgets aren’t on anybody’s list.

And paying a little less for a visit with a nurse in the back corner of a drugstore will do little to ease that pain.