Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Drug Wars Come to the Supermarket

I was stunned over the weekend to see a television commercial promoting the giveaway of free antibiotics (with a prescription). Was this a government sponsored program for the underprivileged? A community health center reaching out to the uninsured?

Nope. Just Stop & Shop, the region's largest supermarket chain trying to build store traffic by using pharmaceuticals as a loss leader.

Oh what a slippery slope this is going to be. It starts with free antibiotics, a good deed done in hopes of a financial gain. But when all the other supermarkets are tossing out free penicillin, how far will the new "drug war" escalate? How soon will we see giveaways of pain killers, anti-depressant medication and narcotics? (Free Viagra is a given!)

This is a dangerous precedent being set. If supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to give away drugs (even "mild" ones), there is nothing to stop them from ratcheting up the hype to include other, less savory items. How soon will we see a free quart of Jack Daniels with every $100 grocery purchase?

Yes, the free antibiotics is a great marketing coup. But somebody needs to bring some common sense and decency into the decision making process before our society falls further toward the "bread & circus" mentality that marked the end of the Roman empire.

Come to think of it, "Bread & Circus" was the name of a grocery chain that was absorbed by another, larger competitor. Perhaps if they offered free gladiator bouts in the produce aisle they may have been able to stay afloat.

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