"Do not wait until you run out of medication. Study the various options and decide which one is best for you."
The cost of prescription drugs has increased significantly in recent years. If you have a chronic condition and require one or more medications on a daily basis, the high cost of prescription medications can be a hardship, especially if you are struggling financially or have lost your health insurance. Even if you have health coverage, it may not have a prescription plan. Here are eight ways to save money on prescription drugs.
If you cannot afford brand-name drugs, your doctor might be able to prescribe a less expensive generic drug in its place. According to the U.S. Department of Food and Drug Administration, generic drugs have the same ingredients and therapeutic value as their brand-name counterparts. Generic drugs cost up to 85% less than the brand name. For example, at one pharmacy chain, a 30-day supply of the cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor cost $90, while Simvastatin, its generic equivalent, cost $20.
Representatives of pharmaceutical companies give drug samples to physicians, which they can pass on to their patients. Discuss your financial situation with your doctor and see if he can provide you with some free samples. In addition to saving you money on your medication, it's a good way for your doctor to determine if the drug will be effective in treating your condition before you purchase it.
The cost of drugs can vary significantly depending on the retailer, so it's important to shop around for the best price. One retailer may charge considerably more than another for the same medication. Consumer Reports conducted a study involving five medications and found that Costco offered the best prices. Another advantage is that you can use their pharmacy without a membership. In addition to Costco, other retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, offer deep discounts on many generic drugs, charging just $4.00 for a 30-day supply and $10.00 for a 90-day supply.
Prescription Assistance Programs
Another way to save money on prescription drugs is through prescription assistance programs. These programs are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and provide medication free or at a discount. There is an application process, so this is not the best option if you need to purchase the medications immediately. To qualify, you must lack prescription drug coverage and meet the income requirements. NeedyMeds is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people determine if they meet the eligibility requirements and assists them find the program that meets their specific needs. Information regarding assistance programs can also be found at pparx.org, the website for The Partnership for Prescription Assistance, and RxAssist.org.
You can also save money by using discount cards. Merck and Pfizer offer discounts cards, and the Together Rx Access Card is offered by a group of drug companies. Before applying for a card, it's important to research it thoroughly. There are eligibility requirements, and while some are free, others charge a fee. Before applying for a card, compare the card's cost with other available cards and check to see if it covers your medications. Organizations such as AARP and AAA offer discount drug cards to their members. Several retailers and drug store chains also offer discount cards. There are a number of places to research discount cards: NeedyMeds, PatientAssistance.com, and MedicationDiscountCard.com.
Online pharmacies offer discounts as well as convenience. Be careful as there are many fraudulent websites. A study done by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), which inspects online pharmacies, concluded that only a small percentage of those studied met their standards. Only use a pharmacy that has the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Seal (VIPPS). Do not use a site just because it has the seal; it might be falsified. Use NABP's website to find an acceptable pharmacy.
Some medications cost the same no matter the dosage. If the pills can be divided, you can double the number by simply splitting them. Medications that treat high blood pressure, depression, and high cholesterol can be safely split. Invest a few dollars in a pill cutter to ensure you split the pills correctly. This way you will get the accurate dose. It's also important to split just one pill at a time, as exposure to elements in the environment could reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
Location of the Pharmacy
If you live in an urban area and are willing to travel outside the city, you may be able to save money on your prescriptions. According to Consumer Reports, Pioglitazone, the generic form of Actos, cost $203 in a drug store in Raleigh, North Carolina, while a pharmacy located in a rural part of the state offered the drug for $37.
Generic drugs, free samples, cost comparison, prescription assistance programs, drug discount cards, online pharmacies, scored pills, and the location of the pharmacy are several ways to save money on your prescription drugs. Do not wait until you run out of medication. Study the various options and decide which one is best for you.