Welcome!

News Feed Item

Consumer Reports: So Many Drugstores, So Many Prices; New Report Finds Price Mayhem At The Pharmacy

Tips for getting the best prices when you shop at the pharmacy; plus, why it pays to shop like a country mouse    

YONKERS, N.Y., March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers who don't shop around for their prescription drugs may be overpaying BIG time, explains Consumer Reports in its May issue.  Failing to comparison shop could result in overpaying by as much as $100 a month or even more, depending on the drug.   

Consumer Reports compared drug prices for five blockbuster drugs that have recently gone generic, including heart drugs Lipitor and Plavix, finding that Costco offered the lowest retail prices overall and CVS charged the highest.  The report is available wherever magazines are sold and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.  

And while Costco is a good bet for low drug prices, consumers may find a good deal too at their local independent pharmacies.  "A consumer can't assume that the price of their prescription medications is set in stone. One of the big takeaways is that you have to ask for the best price and see if your pharmacist will work with you.  Especially for the independent pharmacies, if they want to retain your business and loyalty, they will help you get the best price," says Lisa Gill, editor, prescription drugs, Consumer Reports. 

One reason for the wild cost fluctuations may be that different types of stores have different business incentives, says Gill.  "It really comes down to a store's business model. For example, big box stores tend to use their pharmacies as a way to get consumers through the door with the expectation that they'll buy other things."           

Consumer Reports' secret shoppers called more than 200 pharmacies throughout the U.S. to get retail prices (what you would pay without insurance) on a month's supply of five blockbuster drugs that have recently become available as generics:  Actos (pioglitazone), for diabetes; Lexapro (escitalopram), an antidepressant; Lipitor (atorvastatin), for high cholesterol; Plavix (clopidogrel), a blood thinner; and Singulair (montelukast), for asthma.  The result? A whopping difference of $749, or 447%, between the highest and lowest priced stores.

Some price comparisons:

  • If you shop around, a month's supply of generic Lipitor will set you back $17 at Costco, CR's secret shoppers found.  However, if you fail to do your homework and purchase it from CVS, you could pay $150.  That's a difference of $133.  Rite Aid and Target were also pricey. 
  • For the antidepressant Lexapro, Consumer Reports found a month's supply available of the generic version at a cost of $7 at Costco and $126 at CVS.  Rite Aid, grocery stores, and Walgreens also charged high prices on average.
  • Generic Plavix, which is prescribed to people with cardiovascular disease, was also available at widely varying prices.  For example, on the low end, a month's supply was available at $12 through Healthwarehouse.com and $15 at Costco, while CVS quoted $180 when CR's secret shoppers inquired about prices.  
  • For the market basket of drugs CR checked, independent and grocery store pharmacies' prices varied widely between stores, sometimes offering the cheapest and the most expensive price for the same drug. So consumers should shop around.

HOW TO SAVE

Bear in mind that while some drugs are prescribed for a short term, others may be lifetime drugs, so you want to get the best price for the long haul.  "If your doctor prescribes Lipitor, you may be taking it for the rest of your life.  So it can really pay to shop around. You could save yourself thousands of dollars on that one medication," says Gill.  "Talk to your doctor about lower cost alternatives in the same class of drug. And make sure you have that talk when your doctor is about ready to write the prescription.  Once you're taking a drug and tolerating it well, your doctor might be less inclined to try alternatives," says Gill. 

Some tips for saving:

  • Request the lowest price.  CR's analysis reveals that shoppers weren't always given the best, lowest price. Make sure you ask.
  • Go with generics.  Generics are copies of brand-name medications whose patents have expired.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that generics contain the same active ingredients in the same strength as the brands they copy.  In addition, a generic must be "bioequivalent" to its corresponding brand, meaning that it delivers the same amount of active ingredients into a person's bloodstream in the same amount of time as the original brand.  Read more about generics at ConsumerReports.org.
  • Leave the city and shop like a country mouse.  CR found that some grocery-store and independent drugstores had higher prices in urban areas than rural areas.   For example, CR shoppers priced a 30-day supply of generic Actos at a pharmacy in Raleigh, N.C., for $203, while another pharmacy in a rural area of the state sold it for just $37
  • Get a refill for 90 days, not 30 days. Most pharmacies offer discounts on a three-month supply.
  • Look for additional discounts.  All chain and big-box drugstores now offer discount generic-drug programs, with some selling hundreds of generic drugs for $4 a month or $10 for a three-month supply.  Just make sure your drug is on the list. Offers vary and check the fine print.

MARCH 2013

The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.  We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

SOURCE Consumer Reports

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
We’ve been doing it for years, decades for some. How many websites have you created accounts on? Your bank, your credit card companies, social media sites, hotels and travel sites, online shopping sites, and that’s just the start. We do it often without even thinking about it, quickly entering our personal information, our data, in a plethora of systems. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the information we are providing. It could be very personal information (think of the security questions you ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
DevOps and microservices are permeating software engineering teams broadly, whether these teams are in pure software shops but happen to run a business, such Uber and Airbnb, or in companies that rely heavily on software to run more traditional business, such as financial firms or high-end manufacturers. Microservices and DevOps have created software development and therefore business speed and agility benefits, but they have also created problems; specifically, they have created software sec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...