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Big Chains Use Viagra as a Draw

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May 22, 1998|From Associated Press

TROY, Mich. — The nation's leading discount chains are vying to lure customers with the price of Viagra, the popular impotency pill.

Kmart Corp. has taken out national newspaper ads to promote its $39.99 price for a five-tablet prescription. But industry leader Wal-Mart's unadvertised price is even lower--$38.98, the company said Thursday.

Viagra has been selling at pharmacies around the country for about $10 a tablet.

On Wednesday, suburban Detroit-based Kmart took out ads in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today to promote its $39.99 price. Kmart has 1,500 in-store pharmacies at its 2,100 U.S. outlets.

Spokesman Dan Jarvis said the Viagra price promotion is a way of showing customers that the chain is committed to discounts across the board.

Arch-rival Wal-Mart, meanwhile, has quietly been offering five pills for $38.98, beating Kmart's price by about 20 cents a pill.

"That is our everyday low price," Bryan Holmberg said from the retailer's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.

As at Kmart, Viagra has been a hot item at Wal-Mart's 2,300 in-store pharmacies, he said.

Viagra, developed by Pfizer Inc., went on the market after receiving Food and Drug Administration approval in late March. Its sales have risen faster than any drug in history. An estimated 150,000 prescriptions were written for Viagra in its first three weeks of sales.

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