Prescription prices vary, mostly high - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prescription prices vary, mostly high

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May 10, 2007

Albany - You know in order to get the best price on the things you buy, you should shop around. That includes prescription drugs. Many people don't realize it, but the price you pay from pharmacy to pharmacy can vary greatly.  

Mary Padgett has Multiple Sclerosis, and once a week, she takes an injection of Avonex. That shot helps her manage her MS. Because she has insurance, she only pays $50 every two months for the medicine. "I've been on insurance to where it didn't cover the medicine at all and I had to do without it," said Mary, "So I am very grateful for health insurance. I would not be able to have this medicine without it."

We shopped around, to find out just how much that medicine would cost if she had to pay cash. A huge difference. We first tried Eckerd. They charge $1880 for four shots--that's only a one month supply. For the same supply, it's $1847 at Walmart and $1832 at Rite Aid.

"I don't see how they would be able to afford this medicine," said Mary.  "It's such a high price to pay."

Like most, Mary didn't know that prices change so drastically from one place to another. Let's take a look at a more common drug. Coumadin is a blood thinner. Checking the same three stores, the prices were $61.46, $63.99 and $72.99 respectively.

And then there's birth control. Not all insurance companies will cover it, and not all birth controls come in generic form. There's the Ortho Evra Patch, for instance. At CVS, you can buy it for $56.99. You'll pay the same at Walgreens, but if you chose to buy the patch at K-Mart, you'll pay $69.49. That's a $12 difference. Over a year, a difference of $144.

"Any penny saved is a penny earned," said Padgett.

Januvia is a new diabetes medicine that helps keep blood sugar in control. The cash price is $182.59 at Eckerd for a 30 day supply. The price jumps to $195 at Fred's pharmacy and a whopping $213.99 at CVS. For a year, the difference is $376.

"The pharmacy that you're going to is not going to tell you to call other pharmacies to get the best price on the medicine you need," said Padgett, "So shopping around, that is definitely the way to go."

For some, the medicines are worth every penny. "I've got a 16 year old daughter and I want to make sure that I'm able to walk with my grandchildren, play with them. Without this medicine I would not be able to do that," said Padgett.  But that doesn't mean she won't look around to find just the right price to pay for her health.

Of course if you have insurance, what you pay will be much less than the cash price of medicine. With or without insurance coverage, It's a good idea to shop around. Some stores will match other pharmacy prices.

Here are some other price comparisons. Remember, these are cash prices. Not necessarily what you'll pay with insurance, and they can change at any time.

  • Glucovance 250mg/100 pills:
    CVS--$165.00 Eckerd--$109.49 U Save It--$112.19
  • Diovan 80mg/30 days:
    CVS--$77.59 Eckerd--$60.99 U Save It--$69.63
  • Zyrtec 10mg/30:
    Eckerd--$81.09 U Save It--$76.98 Rite Aid--$91.99
  • Crestor 20mg/30days:
    CVS--$115.99 Eckerd--$102.59 Fred's--$111.00
  • Strattera 40mg/30:
    CVS--$151.99 K-Mart--$166.97 Walgreen's--$138.69
  • Apri:
    Hay's--$28.03 Medi-Save--$41.25 Winn-Dixie $29.95
  • Correg25mg/60:
    Hay's--$141.78 Medi-Save $152.00 Winn-Dixie $138.95  

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