Today, I want to share a similar story: that pharmacies – even neighboring facilities – charge very different amounts for the same generic drugs.
As reported in the May issue of Consumer Reports (CR), their secret shoppers contacted over 200 pharmacies nationwide to obtain prices for a month’s supply of five “blockbuster” drugs now available as generics:
- Actos (pioglitazone) for diabetes
- Lexapro (escitalopram) for depression
- Lipitor (atorvastatin) for high cholesterol
- Plavix (clopidogrel), a blood thinner
- Singulair (montelukast) for asthma
- Costco ($167) As the CR article points out, you don’t need to be a member to use the pharmacy.
- Healthwarehouse.com ($209)
- FamilyMeds.com ($226)
- Sam’s Club ($376)
- Independents ($381)
- Kmart ($392)
- Walmart ($426)
- Walgreens ($433)
- Grocery stores ($658)
- Target ($796)
- Rite Aid ($820)
- CVS ($916)
Those extras, while nice, don't justify the price differential. But I'll stick with CVS mainly because it's the closest pharmacy to my house. I park in the Safeway lot and stay put while I shop at CVS, my treasured Figs carry-out restaurant, and the Safeway. I want to get all of my meds from the same pharmacy; recent posts described the help I got from the CVS pharmacist who discovered possible adverse drug interactions.
The article included several tips on how to save:
Shopping around makes sense. But we need to keep one thing in mind: adverse drug interactions are dangerous. If you use multiple pharmacies for cost reasons, make sure everyone – and especially your internist – knows what you’re already taking. Jeopardizing your health isn’t worth any discount.