10 Ways to Save on Prescription Drugs

With drug prices going up and incomes going down, many people are having a hard time affording their prescriptions these days.   Consumer Reports recently released a report stating nearly 1/3 of Americans are having trouble paying for their prescriptions and have taken dangerous steps as a result.  According to the survey people are skipping doses, not getting prescriptions filled, cutting pills in half and sharing with friends without their doctor’s approval.  Here are a few money-saving strategies to keep from going to these extremes:

  1. If you doctor prescribes a name-brand medicine, ask if a generic will work just as well.   Generic prices are usually 50 – 75% less than name-brand.  Don’t be shy about discussing drug costs with your doctor.  Due to the bad economy they are much more cost-sensitive than they used to be.
  2. If the name-brand drug your doctor prescribes is not available in a generic, ask if another drug that is available in a generic will work just as well.drugs
  3. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage ask if there is an over-the-counter drug that will work instead.  I was recently prescribed Nexium which cost me $80 for 14 pills.  I asked the doctor and found out Prilosec OTC does the same thing for much less and is even available in store brands off the shelf at Walmart, Walgreens or similiar stores.  A month’s worth cost me $20 vs. $160 for the Nexium.
  4. Shop around for the best price.  Prices at different pharmacies can vary greatly.  Pharmacychecker.com is an excellent resource for comparing online pharmacies.   Sam’s Club and Costco have low prices and due to a Federal law, don’t require a membership to use their pharmacies.
  5. If you live near the border of Mexico, consider purchasing there.  Most name brand are available there and are made in the same factories as the US version and are sold at much lower prices. Their prescriptions usually come in a sealed box straight from the manufacturer.   Prescriptions are not required except for controlled substances. U.S. Customs allows you to bring back a 3 month supply across the border. Check their expiration dates before buying. Normally at least one person at each pharmacy can speak English if you are in a border town.
  6. If you have been taking certain drugs for years, ask your doctor to review them.   You may no longer need them.
  7. Split pills.   Ask your Dr. to prescribe a higher dosage and then split them.  Some pills such as controlled-release versions, capsules, or pills with special coatings to protect your stomach do not work correctly if split so be sure to okay it with the doc.
  8. Ask your Dr. for samples.  Beware that many samples are for the newest and most expensive drugs.
  9. If your income is low, look for prescription assistance programs. Here are a few websites that can help – www.pparx.org www.rxassist.org www.needymeds.org
  10. For drugs you must take on a regular basis, try mail-order and save big.

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