For consumers who pay for prescription drugs out their own pockets, a new price study by Yonkers-based Consumer Reports finds it pays to shop around.
The consumer publication’s research showed that not only that prices vary from store to store for the same, but the differences can be dramatic â€” even within the same chain, depending on location.
Consumer Reports placed calls to 163 pharmacies nationwide to gauge price differences among four prescription drugs, three name brand medicines and one generic. For a three-month supply of pills for the urinary incontinence drug Detrol, for example, the price ranged from $365 to $551.
The magazine also found significant price disparities for the two other name-brand drugs it studied: for Plavix (which prevents blood clots), the spread was $382-$541, and for Levoxyl (for treating hypothyroidism), prices ran from $29 to $85. And for the generic alendronate (for osteoporosis), the price range was $124 to $306.
The magazine’s small scale market-basket study showed Costco was the cheapest for the four drugs CR sought quotes for, followed by AARP.com and Wal-Mart. Walgreens and Rite-Aid were among the priciest for the four drugs.
Besides calling different stores and comparison shopping, other cost-saving tips include:
â€¢ Donâ€™t rule out independents: Though theyâ€™re not the cheapest overall, many mom-and-pop pharmacies are highly competitive and offer top notch service.
â€¢ Talk to your employer: Benefits administrators can provide details about pharmacy benefit managers, also known as PBMs.
â€¢ Buy generics: They can cost 20 to 50 percent less than their brand name equivalents.
â€¢ See if thereâ€™s a discount program: Some stores have programs for those 50 and older; other programs are open to anyone without insurance.
The full report is available for free now at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org, or in the June issue of Consumer Reports magazine available on newsstands tomorrow.