Shopping Around Brings Steep Prescription Drug Savings

Shopping Around Brings Steep Prescription Drug Savings

Prescription drug prices at U.S. pharmacies can vary widely, and failing to shop around could result in people overpaying by as much as $100 or more a month on average, depending on the drug, a new study finds.

prescription-costs

Researchers at Consumer Reports called more than 200 pharmacies across the United States to get retail prices (out-of-pocket costs) for a one-month supply of five popular medicines that have recently gone generic. The medicines were: the diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone); the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram); the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (astorvastatin); the blood thinner Plavix (clopidogrel); and the asthma drug Singulair (montelukast).

For a one-month supply of these drugs, there was a $749 difference between the highest– and lowest-priced stores—a more than four-fold difference, according to the study in the May issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

prescription drugs 2

Overall, Costco outlets had the lowest retail prices and CVS had the highest, the report found. Among the specific findings:

  • A month’s supply of generic Lipitor cost $17 at Costco, compared with $150 at CVS. Prices at Rite Aid and Target were also high.
  • A month’s supply of generic Lexapro cost $7 at Costco and $126 at CVS. On average, Rite Aid, Walgreens and grocery store pharmacies also charged higher prices.
  • A month’s supply of generic Plavix cost $12 at HealthWarehouse.com, and $15 at Costco, compared with $180 at CVS.

Different business approaches are one reason for the wide price variations, according to Lisa Gill, prescription drugs editor at Consumer Reports. “It really comes down to a store’s business model. For example, big box stores tend to use their pharmacies as a way to get consumers through the door with the expectation that they’ll buy other things,” she explained in a Consumer Reports news release.

If you want to get the best deals, shop around and always request the lowest price, Gill advised. “A consumer can’t assume that the price of their prescription medications is set in stone,” she said. “One of the big takeaways is that you have to ask for the best price and see if your pharmacist will work with you. Especially for the independent pharmacies, if they want to retain your business and loyalty, they will help you get the best price,” she said.

prescription drugs 3

Other ways to save money include:

  • Using generic drugs, which contain the same active ingredients as brand name drugs.
  • Getting refills for 90 days, not 30 days. Most pharmacies offer price reductions on a three-month supply of a medicine.
  • Look for other discounts. All chain and big-box pharmacies offer discount generic drug programs, with some selling hundreds of generic drugs for $4 a month or $10 for a three-month supply.
  • Try shopping in rural areas. The study found that some grocery store pharmacies and independent drug stores had higher prices in cities than in rural locations. For example, a 30-day supply of generic Actos cost $203 at a pharmacy in Raleigh, N.C., compared with $37 at a pharmacy in a rural area of the state.

Source: http://www.healthfinder.gov

Provided by the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the April 2013 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter by Rebecca McGonigle.

 

 

One thought on “Shopping Around Brings Steep Prescription Drug Savings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s