Arimidex price markup at major pharmacy chains

The commonly prescribed breast cancer drug, Arimidex, was released as a generic in June 2010. The generic name is anastrozole. I called several local pharmacies last week to find out how much this medicine would cost for a one-month supply. I found some very surprising results:

Costco: $27

Walgreens (with Saver Card): $325 (without Card): $380

CVS: $361

Walmart: $347

Target: $340

These are not typos. Costco is selling a one-month supply of generic Arimidex for $27, while everyone else in town is selling it for over $300.

How can this be?

Because Costco’s pricing policy is that they charge their customers the wholesale price plus a 14-15% mark-up. (And remember: you don’t need to be a Costco member to use the pharmacy.) The other pharmacies typically try to get as high a profit margin as they can when new generics are released, presumably because they know customers are used to paying an even higher fee for the branded medicine (e.g. non-generic Arimidex retailed for more than $400).

But come on. How can you justify extracting a profit margin of over 1000% from breast cancer patients? That’s just unseemly.


Leslie Ramirez is an internal medicine physician and founder of Leslie’s List, which provides information that enables all patients, but especially the uninsured and underinsured, to find more affordable medications and health care services.

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