Just in time for cold and flu season, Giant offers free antibiotics

If you're feeling a little sneezy, don't worry about the cost of antibiotics eating up your budget. Drug stores, Target, Costco, Wal-Mart and supermarkets are desperate for your loyal prescription business. Price wars have been driving down the cost of generics for months now, as these businesses that rely on foot traffic try to keep steady customers and not lose them to mail order companies.

Now comes Giant supermarkets, offering antibiotics for free! The chain will fill RXs of 36 generic antibiotics for no cost, including amoxicillin, penicillin and ciprofloxacin through March 21. Obviously the company is hoping that if it can lure you in for your ear infection or whatever you have, that you'll also pick up tissues, over-the-counter drugs and maybe some OJ while you're out. It's a good plan for people on a budget who would otherwise skip the drugs and tough it out, but it's also a good precedent for consumers who pay way too much for drugs overall, especially name-brand drugs.

If these kind of plans make generics more popular, all the better for the rest of us. I just recently filled a prescription for my daughter for a name-brand antacid that cost me $56. I figured, this is what the doctor wanted her to have, so I'll just have to stomach the cost. But when we went back to the doctor for a follow-up visit and she wanted us to continue the medication, I piped up and asked for a generic alternative. Turns out there was one and it only cost us $10. Next time, I'll ask for a generic from the start!