Shopping Around Brings Steep Prescription Drug Savings, Report Finds03/28/13
THURSDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- 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.
Consumer Reportscalled 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
The medicines were: the diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone); the
antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram); the cholesterol-lowering
drug Lipitor (atorvastatin); 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
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
- 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
Different business approaches are one reason for the wide price
variations, according to Lisa Gill, prescription drugs editor at
"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 Reportsnews 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.
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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.