Friday, June 16, 2017

9 Ways to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs - pills

If you watch television for more than a few hours, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that there’s a pill for practically everything. From heart disease and arthritis to anxiety and depression, Americans are taking more pills now than ever before to treat these diseases. While critics may question the value of so much medication, it’s hard to deny that pharmaceuticals have improved the lives of many with chronic conditions.

Unfortunately, rising costs are increasingly putting pharmaceuticals out of reach for the most vulnerable people in society, forcing them to choose between buying food and buying medication. While there are alternatives to paying high prices for pharmaceuticals, saving money takes time and research.


The following 9 tips can help you get started:


1) Choose generic. While the price of formulary drugs continues to rise, generic drugs are still surprisingly cheap. For example, a 30 day supply of Prozac can cost as much as $232.82 at a retail pharmacy, while the generic equivalent, Fluoxetine, can cost as little as $21 a year. Check with your physician to see if a generic equivalent will work for you.

2) Get a drug discount card. For those without insurance, drug discount cards can provide a straightforward way to cut prescription costs. While some cards require a fee, many provide discounts with no upfront costs. Caution is required as not all cards are created equal. 

3) Shop around. Not surprisingly, the cost of prescription drugs can vary substantially from pharmacy to pharmacy. Before you fill your prescription, spend some time calling around. Discount clubs like Costco can save you money and you don’t even have to be a member to use their pharmacy.

4) Buy in bulk. If you take prescription medicines for a chronic condition, you may be able to save money by buying in bulk. The cost of a six month supply of medicine often costs little more than two months of medication purchased one month at a time. Check with your doctor to see if he will write you a prescription for a longer period of time and you could cut your costs prescription costs in half.

5) Ask for free samples. Many drug companies give doctors free samples. This can help you save money, especially in the short run. Once the samples run out, you may be shocked by true cost. Before you accept samples, make sure you check with your physician to see if there would be any complications associated with changing prescriptions after the samples run dry.

6) Shop online. Buying prescription drugs online can be a viable alternative to retail, especially if you are treating a chronic condition like diabetes. Insurance companies often have close relationships with pharmaceutical distributors and can usually provide direct billing. For the uninsured, online pharmaceutical companies can often provide substantial savings. Before buying online, make sure you thoroughly investigate providers as there are significant amounts of counterfeit drugs on the market.

7) Patient assistance programs. Most pharmaceuticals companies have drug assistance programs for those who cannot afford their medicines. Benefits are usually dependent on income which means you will have to supply financial information to become eligible. While subsidies vary widely, the programs can provide help for those who would otherwise have to do without. RxAssist.org is a great resource for information on these programs.

8) Review your medicines with your doctor. With the high degree of specialization in the medical field, it’s possible that you are taking too many medications or taking medications that interfere with one another. If you are wondering how you’re going to afford all of your medications, take them to your pharmacist or physician to see if you can reduce the overall amount. Many medications are also taken to counter the side effects of other medications. Make sure to have all of your medications reviewed whenever you discontinue any one of them.

9) Use coupons. Prescription coupons allow you save money on your medications, even if you already have insurance. Before you go to the pharmacy, check online by searching for your medication and the word “coupon.” Often disease specific magazines or brochures given to you at the doctor’s office have coupons for medication.


Saving money on prescription drugs requires both time and patience.
The best way to start is by talking with your physician. Make sure you doctor understands that you are concerned about the cost as well as the side effects of your medications. Before you decide to forego a drug, make sure you share this information with him. A physician will not only help you prioritize drugs, he might also be able to direct you to a cheaper alternative.

Once you are armed with this information, start searching for savings. Even if you can’t significantly cut your costs, you’ll still have a better idea of what you’re taking and what you really need.