Prescription drug costs have long been a source of mystery and confusion for both patients and doctors. Consider these points:
- According to a recent survey, almost 50% of patients were too embarrassed to bring up the cost of prescription drugs with their doctor
- Another recent study found that less than one-quarter of doctors actually know the prices of the drugs they were prescribing
- The vast majority of Americans have no idea that prescription drug prices vary significantly between pharmacies
No wonder we’re all confused!
The good news is that the mystery of prescription drug prices is being addressed by GoodRx
, a new website and iPhone/Android app. GoodRx has collected over 1 billion prescription drug prices, discounts and savings tips. Consumers need to know that the price for the exact same drug can vary by $100 or more depending on the pharmacy you visit, or what discounts/coupons you use. In addition, there are numerous other ways to save, if you know how.
So what are some things you can do to bring your prescription costs down?
1) Comparison shop
Many people don't realize that prescription drug prices aren't regulated, and some stores offer a far better deal than others. Costco and Sam's Club often have great prices, for example, and you don't need to be a member to use their pharmacies. Even if you're using a coupon, some chain and local pharmacies can charge twice as much for the same drug—take a look at anastrozole
, a breast cancer medication, which could cost from $15 to $30 depending on your choice of pharmacy.
2) Go Generic
If your prescription has a generic available and you're still taking the brand, you could save hundreds by switching.
Some drugs with recently released generics include:
Generics are approved by the FDA as safe equivalents to brand name drugs, meaning they have the same amount of the same active ingredient and the same clinical effect. 3) Filling a Brand? Consider Manufacturer Coupons.
If your brand name prescription doesn't have a generic available, there may be a coupon or copay card from the manufacturer to offset the cost. They can offer anything from a free trial or $10 off to a card that will reduce your total cost from over $100 to $4 per month, like the one for blood pressure med Diovan
. 4) Use discount generic programs
Many major pharmacy and grocery chains offer discount plans for popular, inexpensive generics. Even insured consumers can save versus their co-pay.
The most common pricing is $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply, lower than most insurance premiums. For a very common drug like lisinopril
for blood pressure, you should have lots of choices at under $5 per month. Watch for programs that require a yearly fee—they can still be worth it, but know the terms before signing up.
5) Split your pills
You could cut your lisinopril cost further to around $2 per month by asking your doctor to prescribe you a higher dose and splitting the pill. Always check with your doctor and pharmacist before pill splitting though; it's only safe with certain types of tablets.
6) Take advantage of free generics
Those discount generic programs sometimes include free prenatal vitamins, common antibiotics like
, diabetes meds like
, and even cholesterol meds like
, the new generic for Lipitor. Publix, Price Chopper, Wegmans, and Meijer are some pharmacies that offer free medications.
pulls all of this information and more together in one place to give you a tool to let you make better choices when filling your prescriptions.