Getting sick is expensive and the prescription drugs used to make you feel better can end up hurting your pocketbook.
However, there is some relief if you know where to look.
Just like shopping around for the best deals at a mall or at a grocery store, prescription drug shopping is very similar.
Prices will vary depending on the pharmacy and the type of drug you’re taking.
Dr. Mary Chavez is an Associate Dean at UTEP’s School of Pharmacy, she says one of the things consumers should look out for is if a particular drug has a generic equivalent.
Don’t always go for the name brand.
The top three prescription drugs in the state of Texas, according to federal government figures, are amoxicillin, a drug used to treat bacterial infections, followed by Tamiflu and Ibuprofen.
All three of these medications have a generic equivalent, which is cheaper than buying the brand name, so it’s important to ask your pharmacist.
“The pharmacist will actually call the physician and say the patient can’t afford this brand name, is there something else we can give them,” Chavez said. “One place may be 85 dollars and another, if you’re doing the generic maybe 4 dollars, so it’s a big difference.”
So why are prices so high?
Prescription medications change hands multiple times before getting to consumers.
From manufacturer, to wholesaler, to pharmacy, everyone gets a profit and by the time the drug reaches the consumer, the price is way more than the cost to make it.
Contracts between pharmacies and insurance companies actually barred pharmacists from discussing cheaper alternatives with customers, but a new law signed by President Donald Trump last month repealed the so-called “gag clause,” so now, you can make a more informed decision.
“Don’t be afraid, ask your doctor, ask your pharmacist what’s the better price because these can be very expensive,” Chavez said.
Also, compare prices and look for discounts.
Websites like “Good RX.com” will show you the cost of a drug at different pharmacies in your area and some will provide discount coupons.
You might also consider mail-order prescriptions because that too can save you money.
And go over your insurance plan because some medications might cost you less if you don’t use your insurance.
“Sometimes it’s better to pay cash than the actual co-pay of your insurance,” Chavez said. “It’s also very important to have your insurance know what the price will be, so you can tell you physician that this is not on my formulary, so can we not prescribe that and change it to another medication.”
At kvia.com, visit our Rx Borderland page, there you’ll find the top 25 prescriptions in Texas and a link to GoodRX.com.
Just type in your zip code and the drug you’re looking for and you’ll be able to compare prices and get some free coupons.