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Getting ripped off on generic drug prices?

Written By | Jan 29, 2014

WASHINGTON, January 29, 2014—You may be paying far too much for your generic prescription if you did not price shop prior to getting the prescription filled. Savings by price shopping for prescriptions may yield similar results as shopping around for cars, shoes or anything else.

PBS NewsHour reporter Megan Thompson interviewed her own mother, Carol, who was diagnosed in 2009 with breast cancer. Thompson inquired about her mother’s newly obtained generic status prescription drug named letrozole. Carol was paying $400.00 per month for a 30-day supply of the drug until daughter Meagan price shopped. What she discovered was mind-boggling.

Costco offered the same generic drug for about $10.00. Other pharmacies came in with $11.04, $29.88, $45.99, $364.99 and $455.00. Thompson’s research indicated independent pharmacies and stores like Costco offered the best pricing.

This author telephoned about a commonly prescribed narcotic analgesic called hydrocodone, the generic name for Vicodin, and found prices for a 30 supply (120 pills) ranging from $40.00 to $120.00.

Upon learning a friend was struggling to pay for her thyroid medicine, an internet search for the company that manufactured the medication generated a coupon, which cut her monthly prescription cost from $112.00 to $50.00 per month for one year.

Pharmacists in drug and sundry stores were seemingly reluctant to discuss pricing, other than to say the pricing was determined by the company’s main office and what the market for a given geographic location will bear.

“Regional pricing,” as this type of pricing practice is called in retail circles, is a system based on a given area’s average per capita income, competition and customer draw, among other factors. All products from food, school and office supplies, to electronics and prescription are priced according to an equivalent formula.

The Thompsons are saving $4,620.00 per year just by placing a phone call. This author’s friend is saving $720.00 per year by contacting the drug manufacturer. Many pharmaceutical companies offer reduced prices for seniors and those with low income. Try both; contact the drug manufacturer and call around to pharmacies.

A little research can go a long way.

Paul Mountjoy

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based psychotherapist and writer.