Walmart expands pharmacist duties with new testing, treatment program for common illnesses

Pharmacists in 12 states can now test shoppers for strep throat, the flu and COVID, offering both prescription and grocery-based cures.
Walmart pharmacy
Walmart launched Testing and Treatment, a new program in which pharmacists can test and treat shoppers for common maladies. / Photo: Shutterstock

Walmart is launching a new program at its pharmacies in 12 states in which pharmacists can both test and treat people for several common illnesses, the retail giant announced Tuesday.

The new initiative, dubbed Testing and Treatment, lets pharmacists test customers for strep throat, the flu and COVID, and then offer in-store treatment options.

“A flu test may lead to a prescription for Tamiflu, or a sore throat could be calmed by tea and chicken noodle soup,” Walmart said in a statement. “Either way, it’s only aisles away. Our pharmacies are ready to be more than your second or third stop on the path to getting better—they can be your only stop.”

The program is currently available in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Washington, Walmart said.

Testing and Treatment is not yet set up to accept third-party insurance and is a cash-only service, with prices starting around $133.

Consumers can walk in for testing or they can schedule an appointment via Walmart’s app, the retailer said. All tests offer results in about 15 minutes.

It is not necessary to contact a patient’s doctor for a prescription if the person tests positive, so long as there are no contraindications. Walmart pharmacists will contact those who are prescribed treatment within 72 hours to follow up, the retailer said.

“If we learned anything in 2020 and the years that followed, it’s that testing and detection of curable illnesses can help save lives and bolster community health,” Walmart said. “And with flu season on the horizon and COVID-19 cases forever fluctuating, we believe Testing and Treatment could hardly come at a better time.”

Walmart noted that it has stores within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, making it well-suited to an expansion of its healthcare offering.

Walmart has steadily grown its health care presence, following the launch of Walmart Health in 2019.

The retailer has previously said it plans to operate more than 75 Walmart Health centers around the country by the end of next year. The clinics include primary and urgent care, labs, X-ray, behavioral health, dental and hearing services.

And in 2021, Walmart acquired telehealth provider MeMD to expand access to virtual care options.

Walmart also launched Walmart+ Rx for Less, which offers a selection of commonly prescribed medications at no costs for Walmart+ members, as well as savings of up to 85% on other prescription drugs.

Reuters, in an exclusive report on Tuesday, said Walmart is asking some of its 16,000 pharmacists to take voluntary pay cuts by working fewer hours. 

Walmart, however, called the report "inaccurate" in an email response after WGB inquired about the Reuters report. 

"We are not cutting pay for our pharmacists," Walmart said. "In fact, we have recently raised wages for both pharmacists and pharmacy techs.  In addition, we are actively hiring pharmacists in many markets across the country and continue to see demand grow for their services."

UPDATE: This story has been updated with comment from Walmart about reported pharmacist pay cuts. 




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