Seven Steps to Save Money at the Pharmacy

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Suzy-Cohen-1_2Dear Pharmacist,
How can I save money at the pharmacy. It gets real expensive, especially at this time of year.
–T.A., Tulsa, Oklahoma
Answer: My customers used to joke and say it was the high cost of living! Here are my tips about how to save some money at the pharmacy:

1 Buy generic prescriptions. This could save up to $400 a month, depending on the drug.  Generics are supposed to be manufactured to the same exact standards as brand name drugs, but they don’t rack up the same expensive research, development and advertising costs.   

2 Ask your doctor for samples. It’s a free way to try your medication and see if it works before you make a large non-refundable investment at the pharmacy. Physicians are busy and often forget to offer samples, but if you ask, and they have one, you’ll get it. Don’t be shy.

3  Take an older medication. Older drugs have generic equivalents available for them, just ask your physician to write a prescription for a medication that has been out for at least 10 years.  Also, newer drugs are not necessarily any better, and besides, their track record of safety isn’t established like the old drugs.
4 Buy a pill splitter and cut pills in half. First ask your doctor if he can prescribe your medication in the double strength. For example, if you normally take 10 mg, ask your doctor to write the script for 20 mg. The pharmacist does not split pills, you do this yourself at home and keep in mind, it requires good eyesight. The beauty is that you get double the bang for your buck. Caution folks: Controlled or extended release medications should never be split.

5 Shop for price. I hardly ever suggesting leaving your regular pharmacy because they have your entire drug profile on the computer so you are safer when it comes to potential interactions. That said, some chains offer a 30-day supply for four dollars and a 90-day supply for ten dollars for maintenance medications and this saves money.

6 Use a loyalty card. They scan your card when you check out and not only reward you with cash back every month or quarter. You get something like a dollar back for every prescription you buy and discounts for cosmetics, groceries. OTC meds and household items.  It’s a free card at the pharmacy, just ask.
7 Buy OTC products when possible. Sometimes you get a prescription for a medication, but its ‘sister’ drug is available over-the-counter for a fraction of the price! Ask the pharmacist if your new, pricey prescription has a ‘relative’ that is sold OTC. You can do this entirely on your own, but I always prefer that you get your doctor’s blessings for the switcheroo.
Did You Know?
The dietary supplement called “inositol hexaniacinate”  is a niacin derivative and it acts like an antidepressant.