PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For some people, prescriptions can run hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a month.
Prices for the most common drugs have soared more than 200 percent in the last 10 years.
Now, some are finding relief and saving money online.
But, a few clicks on a couple of websites revealed a discount could be as close as your local pharmacy.
Jon Jablonski admits he ignored the warning signs for years.
At the age of 36 when doctors discovered a benign tumor growing in his inner ear, his growing family was beyond grateful.
But, a nine-hour surgery led to new problems – a pinched sciatic nerve that’s led to lasting pain and a prescription that costs him $462 a month to control it.
Now, two websites and smartphone apps promise to shake up the prescription drug industry and get people like Jablonski the lowest price.
GoodRX constantly collects drug prices at pharmacies from around the country. All you have to do it punch in your prescription and it connects customers to coupons you take to your local pharmacy.
Another site called Blink Health gets drug prices straight from the drug maker. Customers pay online then pick up the prescription.
“I think it’s the future of all healthcare.” GoodRX co-founder Doug Hirsch said.
Hirsch left his job at Facebook to tackle the rising cost of prescription drugs after his own personal experience.
“At that point, I had young kids and I wanted to see if I could focus my efforts on something that was really affecting the community around me,” he said.
Hirsch’s app focuses on data mining, collecting pricing from some 70,000 pharmacies to find the lowest price with coupons.
In most cases, pharmacies keep those coupons on file so you’ll continue to pay the same, lower price.
“If you’re buying drugs in this country you’ve got to do your homework,” Hirsch said.
Professor Stephen Schondelmeyer has studied the rising cost of prescription drugs for decades.
“I’m not talking about 5 or 10 percent price increases. I’m talking about 100 to 1,000 percent or more increases in price,” he said.
There is no process in the United States that regulates, monitors or sets drug prices.
With so many players that have a stake in the game, drug companies sometimes hire a firm to push a doctor to prescribe their product. Your doctor then choses the drug for you and, sometimes a pharmacy representative is also working behind the scenes.
It’s manpower we all eventually pay for.
“If it was just the drug company making it and shipping it to the pharmacy and the pharmacy selling you the drug that would be a pretty simple system,” Schondelmeyer said.
It’s why Schondelmeyer tells patients it’s never a bad idea to look around for a better deal. However, he believes savings on these type of sites are often exaggerated.
He thinks they play up the price of a generic drug versus a brand name, where you’ll see that kind of advertised 80- to 90-percent price difference.
Still, Jablonski gave it a shot.
He was paying $462.99 for a 30-day supply of Lyrica. On Blink Health he found a $414 price– a $50 savings.
GoodRX gave the best deal at $382 with an online coupon or $81 off the regular price.
Jablonski will now be checking both before he buys and considers it a bit of pain control for his bottom line.