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Stop & Shop to offer free antibiotics
Waterbury Republican-American ^ | January 1, 2009 | David Krechevsky

Posted on 01/01/2009 12:11:42 PM PST by Graybeard58

For a full list of the 36 generic antibiotics offered for free by Stop & Shop, visit

Beginning Friday, Stop & Shop Supermarket pharmacies will offer free antibiotics to anyone with a doctor's prescription, a program the company says will help maintain the health of its customers in "a difficult economy."

The director of Saint Mary's Health System's infectious disease and infection control department, however, says the program is misguided.

The company, with headquarters in Quincy, Mass., has 251 stores with pharmacies in the Northeast. It announced this week it will offer a free 14-day supply for any of 36 generic antibiotics — including amoxicillin and penicillin — to customers with a legitimate doctor's prescription. The program will run from Friday through March 21. A list of the drugs offered is available on the company's Web site,

"This is a way that the company can serve its customers and be a caring and reliable partner in the communities they serve," said Peter M. Hamilton, a spokesman for The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. "The economic situation loomed large in the company's thinking."

The program is in addition to Stop & Shop's Real Deal program, which offers a 90-day supply of more than 350 commonly prescribed generic drugs for $9.99.

By offering free antibiotics, said Andrea Astrachan, a consumer adviser for the company, Stop & Shop shows it is "committed to improving the health and wellness in our communities during the winter season, when families are susceptible to coughs and certain cold-related and bacteria-borne illnesses."

Antibiotics are not the best way to accomplish that, however, according to Dr. Michael Simms, director of infectious disease and infection control for Saint Mary's Health System in Waterbury.

"Anything that encourages over-utilization of antibiotics is a bad idea," Simms said Wednesday.

According to a 2001 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, up to 75 percent of the antibiotics prescribed each year are for upper-respiratory tract infections.

"Yet most of these prescriptions are unnecessary, since most respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses and are unaffected by antibiotics," the report states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns against over-prescribing antibiotics, stating on its Web site that "taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment."

According to the CDC, antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, including colds, flu, and most coughs and bronchitis, though they are effective against strep throat.

Simms said there are better ways for Stop & Shop and other civic-minded organizations to help.

"If they are doing this for economic reasons, antibiotics are very inexpensive drugs anyway," he said. "They should pick out drugs that are more expensive, such as those for diabetes or hypertension, and offer them for free. Or, if they really wanted to have an impact on infections, give out free flu shots."

Faith Weiner, a Stop & Shop spokeswoman, said the supermarket has offered flu shots, which often are covered by insurance. She also said the antibiotics being offered for free can range in price from $10 to $23, and that "not everybody has insurance."

As for the issue of over-prescribing antibiotics, she said that issue is between patients and their doctors.

Simms recommends consumers talk to their doctors about whether an antibiotic will help.

"Make sure you have something that requires an antibiotic, and if your doctor prescribes one, ask if you really need it," he said. "I certainly would not use more antibiotics simply because they are going to be free."

TOPICS: Health/Medicine
KEYWORDS: antibiotics; health; medicine

1 posted on 01/01/2009 12:11:42 PM PST by Graybeard58
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To: Graybeard58

Dumb promo stunt.

In the end, you may as well give away those abx, because they won’t work anymore...

2 posted on 01/01/2009 12:16:05 PM PST by dadgum (Tee Hee)
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To: Graybeard58

What kind of name is “Faith Weiner”?

3 posted on 01/01/2009 12:20:43 PM PST by hunter112 (We seem to be on an excrement river in a Native American watercraft without a propulsion device.)
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To: dadgum

The stupidity of this blows me away. People should be getting LESS antibiotics, not MORE! People pressure the doctors to prescribe them as it is, now that they’re free, they will go wild!

4 posted on 01/01/2009 1:39:45 PM PST by usmom
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