Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Many people choose their pharmacy for reasons other than price.
“It’s pretty much convenience in location of the store,” said one woman.
“My insurer requires that I use mail order,” says one man.
“I actually go to Giant Eagle to get FuelPerks,” admits another woman.
But shopping around on your prescription drugs can pay off.
Consumer Reports called more than 200 pharmacies across the country to find out what the out-of-pocket cost would be for a one-month supply of popular medicines: the diabetes drug Actos, the antidepressant Lexapro, the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor, the blood thinner Plavix, and the asthma drug Singulair.
Between the highest priced, the drugstore chain CVS, and lowest priced, the membership club Costo, there was a $749 difference.
“We have people who come to us from the Rite Aids and the Walgreens, and some of the prices they tell me they’ve paid is just astronomical sometimes,” says Amy McMillan, a pharmacist at Hometown Pharmacy.
This has to do with business models, number of wholesalers and other factors. For example, because most people have insurance, the insurer pays the higher price, not necessarily the customer.
If you’re paying out of pocket, some ways to save include going generic.
“The generic is the same active ingredient, it’s the same medication,” says McMillan.
Also, get a 90-day supply instead of just one month.
“Insurance companies will charge you one less co-pay going from 30 days to 90 days,” she adds.
Independent pharmacies can have more flexibility on price.
“We are willing to price match prescriptions, and work with them if they don’t have insurance coverage,” she continues.
Just be careful about shopping around at too many pharmacies. This makes it harder for pharmacists to for check drug interactions.
Other money saving tips? Look for discounts like $4-a-month or $10-for-three-month deals, and try shopping in independent rural stores where prices can be lower.