7 tips for fighting high prescription drug costs

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FEATURE — I consider myself a warrior against the high costs of pharmaceuticals.

For example, I do not give out samples of expensive medicine. I think it wrong unless it has been clearly shown that a brand name is better than a generic. I keep asking for that data from drug reps, and I almost never get it. So here are a seven ideas you can use to save some money.

Use generics whenever possible.

Some are much lower in price.  And unless there is a solid reason for not using them, that’s all I ever use personally, and I rarely have to switch. There are likely a few better nongenerics out there. But as a general policy, start with generics.

Read more: Hospital group based in Utah will make own generic drugs, promising to save patients millions

Talk to the pharmacist.

Don’t be afraid to ask the pharmacist if there is a medication that is similar to the one you were prescribed at a lesser price. As a physician, I am not given price lists of pharmaceuticals.  If there is, call your doctor and ask if the less expensive med will still do the trick. Very often it is very acceptable, and a LOT cheaper.

Check with Canadian pharmacies.

I have recommended them for a long time, and they are legit and can supply you with the same med at a much lower price. Make sure the company has a Canadian home address and phone number and requires a prescription from your doctor. My experience with them has been excellent.

Get larger doses and breaking them in half.

As an example, getting 100 mg is not double the cost of 50 mg in almost all cases. In fact, often the difference is very small. Then using a simple pill cutter and breaking them in half saves a lot of cash.

Even if you have insurance, ask the cash price.

“Clawbacks” are when the insurance co-pay costs are more than the actual cash price of the medication. It happens more often than you think. You assume your insurance is saving you money on prescriptions, but in many cases, it is not.

Check the drug company websites for coupons.

This is often overlooked but always a good idea, and it segues into the final, biggest suggestion.

Shop around.

One medication at one pharmacy can be vastly less expensive at another for absolutely no reason that I can see. My hands-down best advice is to use GoodRX.com. You need a prescription of course. But it will give you the cash price of all the local pharmacies where you live. No sign up. No risk.  You don’t even have to give your name, credit card, anything.

You will be surprised how low prices are and how varied. If you are paying out of pocket, this will save you armloads. Pass it on, and you’re welcome!


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  • iceplant October 1, 2018 at 11:01 am

    I’ll give you an even better tip.
    Stop taking pills altogether and start using cannabis as medicine.
    Save your life before it’s too late. I did. And I am 1000 times better off for doing so.

  • Craig October 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I never met with drug reps. If they were not excellent at changing physician’s prescribing practices, the pharmaceuticals would not use them.

    The same with TV ads for consumers. The key is to get the patient to pressure the physician. Again, it must work or the pharmaceuticals would not spend a fortune on it.

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