Saving on drug prices - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Saving on drug prices

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December 15, 2004

by Anietra Hamper

Cheryl Davis, like many Americans, takes several prescription drugs -- enough to qualify for some government programs -- but not enough to keep her from spending a large check of her fixed income on medication. "I feel sometimes my medication and food is taking up my money."

Prescription drug plans aren't a cure-all for high drug prices. You have to seek out the discounts. By far the most popular prescription cost-saver is ordering on-line. One website -- destinationrx.com -- compares prices of several on-line pharmacies.

You can save a few dollars on something like Ibuprofen to well above $64.00 on more costly prescriptions like Fluoxetine.

Prices can fluctuate and there is a shipping charge, but often the savings is worth it. Ernie Boyd of the Ohio Pharmacists Association says you still need to be a cautious consumer when ordering on-line. "We're finding that patients are coming into pharmacies with ziplock bags with drugs that may not have a label on the bag."

Look for the seal issued by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. It confirms an on-line pharmacy is licensed and regulated.

You never want to switch drugs without your doctor's permission, but one thing you can do is use your pharmacist as an advisor - they are most familiar with the prices. They can suggest comparable drugs that cost less. "Most physicians use 50 drugs regularly that they're familiar with.

Pharmacists dispense over 2000. They’re familiar with prices and how they work." You can also ask your doctor if there are comparable drugs that cost less.

Other options: buying in bulk -- if you have to pay out of pocket, ordering a 90-day supply will save you the most money.

Prescription discount cards can save you money -- but many of them require you to reach a certain dollar amount in prescription costs before the discount kicks in.

If you need a one-time prescription for something like a sore throat --buy a generic drug or ask your doctor for free samples. For some consumers like Cheryl, shopping around isn't worth the cost of doing it. Davis says it's not worth it because you have to pay for a cab or bus fare or in my case find someone to take you.

But for many consumers --the effort may just be worth the savings.

You can also check drug prices at DrugStore.com

posted at 12:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com