Meijer disputes belief that nothing is free

The Midwest is known for flat landscapes and fertile farm fields stretching to the horizon, but it also is home to one of the country’s oldest and most successful mass merchandise chains — one with a long history of strong emphasis on pharmacy programs.

Where a growing number of chains have adopted generic discount programs, Meijer has taken to giving many drugs away for free. The list of medications that customers can obtain at no charge now includes metformin for Type 2 diabetes, prenatal vitamins and most antibiotics.

The chain also offers a variety of screenings for diabetes, cholesterol, liver function and blood pressure, as well as programs for combating obesity, such as body mass index and weight management information and education. Immunizations offered include seasonal flu, pneumococcal and shingles vaccines, all available on a walk-up basis.

The company, which currently has 195 stores, plans to open two more in the fall and has been expanding in Chicago with small-format stores of 90,000 sq. ft. that are focused on grocery and pharmacy.

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