Advice from a pharmacist
Generic over-the-counter medicine
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Cut the cost of prescriptions up to 70%
Here are 14 ways to do it

SAVVY-DISCOUNTS.com has researched 14 ways to cut the costs of prescriptions. We have spent five years gathering and verifying this information. This list has been reviewed by a licensed registered pharmacist.

Because insurance often does not cover prescriptions, this cost has become a critical issue. The price of drugs has been rising faster than the rate of inflation for a number of years. Some elderly people are choosing between eating dinner or taking their prescription medicine. Others are driving to Canada or Mexico to buy drugs at substantial discounts. The cost has become so important to seniors it is an issue in the presidential debate.

In the meantime there is a lot a person can do to dramatically cut the cost of the medicines he or she is taking. Savings of 50% and more are possible. Rick Doble, editor of SAVVY-DISCOUNTS.com , adds, "With the price of drugs rising rapidly, it is important that each person take control to reduce those expenses as much as possible. With these tips, just about anyone can find a way to save on prescriptions." Drastic savings are possible. For example, Doble points out that a person who is buying brand-name drugs in small quantities could save a lot if he or she bought generic drugs in larger quantities.

  1. Even if you must pay for prescriptions yourself, you may still be entitled to a discount simply because you belong to a certain insurance plan. Find out if you qualify for a health insurance discount and whether your pharmacy participates in the plan.
  2. You may be able to buy prescription pills in double doses, cut the pill in half, and save as much as 40%. You can buy devices that make cutting pills easy. Before you do this ask your pharmacist whether this is appropriate for the medicine you are taking as some pills should not be cut.
  3. Get regular prescriptions in larger quantities. A full unopened bottle, could save you money per pill.
  4. Order regular prescriptions through a discount mail-order pharmacy. Generally you must buy a large quantity. Always compare prices.
  5. Request that your doctor give you the option of taking a generic prescription drug if available. Many generics are made by large drug companies, and all must pass strict government tests. The savings can be considerable. The FDA recently issued a report stating that it found generic drugs worked just as well as brand-name drugs.
    NOTE: A pharmacists states that there could be a problem with switching from a brand-name "narrow therapeutic index drug" to a generic equivalent. While starting with a generic in this case should be no problem, switching may require careful monitoring by a doctor as there can be slight differences in the absorption rates (not the medicine's effectiveness) between the two kinds.
  6. New generics are being introduced on a regular basis. Even if a generic drug was not previously on the market, ask every time a prescription is filled if a generic is now available.
  7. Comparison shop over the phone. Whether it is a name-brand or a generic drug, call several pharmacies with the identical prescription (same brand, same number of tablets, same strength). However, if you buy medicine from more than one source make sure that your doctor and pharmacist are aware of all the drugs you are taking. This way they can be on the lookout for interactions and duplications.
  8. Don't pay expensive prescription prices if the drug you take is now available in a less costly over-the-counter form. New over-the-counter versions of prescription drugs are regularly coming on the market. Consult your pharmacist about the appropriate dosage for the over-the-counter drug.
  9. Some drug stores offer discounts for seniors or for parents of young children.
  10. Ask your doctor for free drug samples. Pharmaceutical companies give physicians thousands of dollars worth a year. Besides saving you some initial money, a sample also allows you to test a new drug before buying a full prescription. This could save a substantial amount since by law prescriptions cannot be returned for a refund.
  11. You may qualify for free medicine from drug companies. Participating companies offer a free directory which includes guidelines for eligibility. Ask for: Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs. Go to their web site at: http://www.phrma.org/patients/index.html
  12. Seniors, especially, should have a doctor and pharmacist review all the drugs they take. They may find duplication and over-medication which is both costly and unhealthy. Also, people over 65 may need less medication than they did when they were younger.
  13. Talk to your pharmacist. He or she may be much more accessible than your doctor and more aware of drug side effects, interactions and lower cost alternatives.
  14. Buying several refills together of a regular prescription can save time and money. Most pharmacies have a minimum fee that they charge to fill any prescription. For example, buying a three month supply of pills is often cheaper per pill than getting a refill each month. And you will save time because you will visit the pharmacy less often.

  • From our March 15, 2002 E-mail Newsletter
  • ---------========| The Canadian Connection |========----------
    Many US citizens are breaking the law, but no one so far has been
    prosecuted. Both ABC World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News
    reported recently that seniors are buying prescription drugs via
    the Internet from pharmacies in Canada, a practice which is
    technically illegal.
    Why are they doing this? The cost difference is dramatic. Some
    seniors are saving about 80% on certain drugs. Discounts for many
    people seem to run about 40%.
    Should seniors be worried about being prosecuted? A FDA (Food and
    Drug Administration) official stated "We don't want to punish
    Canadian pharmacies are happy to help. They have a strict set of
    rules that are spelled out at their web sites. 

  • From our paper edition: Vol 3 #1, 1997
    Name brand drugs and vitamins
    vs. generics
      In  a nationally syndicated  radio
    program about health, a doctor stated
    something that I had suspected for  a
    long time.
       He said that store-brand  vitamins
    and over-the-counter drugs as well as
    generic prescription drugs were often
    the  exact same product as the  name-
    brand  product only with a  different
    label.  Where  have  we  heard   this
       Some  months ago I was told  by  a
    drug  store  executive that  many  of
    their  store-brand products were  the
    same  product as the  national  brand
    only with a different label.
       Therefore it almost always pays to
    try   a  drug   store   private-label
    product.  If you don't like  it,  you
    can probably return it.
       However, prescription drugs cannot
    be  returned by law. If you  want  to
    try a generic prescription drug,  get
    a small prescription first. Make sure
    that  it works properly,  before  you
    buy a large quantity.
       You might also ask your pharmacist
    about any of the above at his  store.
    Many pharmacists are quite candid and
    will give their honest opinion.

  • From our paper edition: Vol. 3, #4, 1997
       For  this interview, I spoke  with
    Phil Alexander, Chief Pharmacist  and
    Pharmacy   Manager   at   the   Kmart
    Pharmacy  in  Morehead  City,   North
       I asked Phil how to save money  on
    prescriptions.   He  explained   that
    there were a number of ways.
       Generic   medicines  can  save   a
    considerable  amount of money over  a
    brand name. However, the doctor  must
    indicate  on  the  prescription  form
    that a generic can be substituted  if
    the patient prefers. The form  varies
    from  state to state. In some  states
    the  doctor merely checks a  box;  in
    other  states the doctor signs  on  a
    different line. However, it is  often
    up  to the patient to ask the  doctor
    to  write  the prescription  so  that
    generics are allowed.
       Generics are tested by the FDA  to
    perform the same as brand-name drugs.
    However,  Phil cautioned that if  you
    are used to certain brand name drugs,
    and  are you are being  treated  with
    blood thinners, thyroid medicines, or
    anti-convulsants you should  probably
    not switch to a generic.
       People  on "maintenance  medicine"
    can  save  a considerable  amount  by
    buying  large quantities at  a  time.
    Smaller  quantities  generally   cost
    more money per pill and and the paper
    work involved costs more as well.
       I  asked  his  opinion  of   store
       He   said  store-brand   over-the-
    counter  drugs  are usually  just  as
    good as the brand name and  sometimes
    made  by the same manufacturer.  Many
    store brands are developed and tested
    so that they perform the same as  the
    store brand.
       I  wanted  to  know  if  expensive
    vitamins   were  better  than   other
    kinds.   I  mentioned   that   buying
    vitamins  is  one area  where  people
    often  spend  a lot of money  to  buy
    what they think is a quality product.
    I  estimated that a consumer can  pay
    ten times or more for such vitamins.
       He agreed and mentioned that  some
    manufacturers  insist their  vitamins
    are  better  because  they  are  cold
    processed  so that the life force  is
    still  in the product.  Nevertheless,
    he   believed  that  there   was   no
    difference  in  the  benefit  to  the
       However,   he  pointed  out   that
    "natural vitamins," that is  vitamins
    with no dyes, preservatives, sugar or
    salt  might perform better  for  some
    people. These "natural vitamins"  are
    now  available inexpensively or  sold
    as store brands in many pharmacies.
       I  asked  him  how  a   pharmacist
    should fit in with a person's overall
    health care.
       Phil pointed out that a pharmacist
    should  be  an  important  component.
    While  people should shop around  for
    the  pharmacy with the  best  prices,
    they  should settle on one  and  then
    buy  all  their  drugs  at  that  one
    establishment.  The pharmacist  needs
    to look at the complete list of drugs
    you are taking so that he or she  can
    warn  you  of  any  side  effects  or
    interactions.  If you buy your  drugs
    at   several   pharmacies,   no   one
    pharmacist  will be able to  look  at
    the total number of prescriptions you
    are taking.
       Phil  recommended  that  you  also
    find  a pharmacy where  the  druggist
    will   spend  time  explaining   your
    medication  to  you.  If  he  or  she
    doesn't   have  the  time,  then   go
    somewhere  else. You should  even  be
    able to call him or her on the  phone
    if need be. The pharmacist is a  very
    valuable resource who may even have a
    more   complete  picture  than   your
    doctor  of  the  medicines  you   are
       Elderly people are sometimes over-
    medicated.  For example,  they  might
    have two different prescriptions  for
    similar   drugs.  A  druggist   might
    notice   this.  In  some  cases   the
    pharmacist  can call your doctor  and
    recommend changes.
       I asked him about the best way  to
    store and keep prescriptions.
       Phil    stated   that    medicines
    deteriorate   in   a  damp   or   hot
    environment. Therefore people  should
    NOT keep them in the medicine cabinet
    in  a  bathroom. They should  not  be
    stored   in  a  refrigerator   either
    because  it  is too  damp.  Medicines
    should  be stored in a place that  is
    cool  and  dry.   He  suggested  that
    people  find a drawer in a room  that
    stays  cool  and dry.  However,  keep
    them  out of the reach  of  children,
    especially young children.
       After  about  a year,  most  drugs
    should     be     discarded.     Many
    prescriptions  these  days  have   an
    expiration  date on the label.  Throw
    them away after that date. Don't  try
    to  save money by  using  out-of-date

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