Are you trying to find the lowest cost for your prescription medications? It might shock you to learn that different pharmacies, located possibly within blocks of each other, might charge drastically different pricing for the exact same medication. And, worse, the differences are unpredictable, change over time, and vary for different medications, dosages, and brands. How is the consumer supposed to navigate this and ensure they get the best pricing? Even worse, the same pharmacies charge different prices for the same drug at different times. So, habitually filling all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy may bring convenience, but it is not helping your wallet. You may think that CVS, for example, might have the best pricing for a medication you take regularly, but if you called around and did a search each time you needed to fill that prescription, you might find that at times CVS is the cheapest but at other times, they aren’t. The pharmacies are betting that you can’t manage this and use these tactics to increase their revenues and profits!
A recent article on www.kevinmd.com covered this exact issue in more detail (http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/07/pharmacies-charge-prices-prescription-drugs.html). According to Kevin: “Most of the American public doesn’t know that different pharmacies can and do charge drastically different prices for their prescription drugs. Does that surprise you? It sure surprised me when I found this out a few months ago in my medical school class. I consider myself well educated. I’m a college graduate and in the throes of professional school — in healthcare nonetheless. I have an open mind and I read quite a bit. But I still wouldn’t have guessed that Coumadin would cost my uninsured father in Texas $15 for thirty pills at CVS, but only $4 for the same number of tablets at Walmart (I can actually vouch for this number). I would have thought it was safe to assume that drug prices are comparable across the board. After all, that’s how it usually works, right? When I buy gum, I have faith that I won’t pay triple the price at one convenience store compared to another. But with pharmacies, this just isn’t the case.”
Another example, from the website “MoneyCrashers” of a specific prescription shopping experience, found the same problems: “I compared prices at CVS, RiteAid, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. What I found was that no pharmacy quoted the lowest price for all of the medications. For example, CVS was $80.00 cheaper than Target for one particular type of medication, dosage and strength but not for other types of medication. I was very interested in these retail price comparisons since with my insurance, I pay 15% of the retail cost. In many cases, it was a small difference, but it varied. The other interesting thing is that none of the pharmacies I compared quoted the same price for the same medication, dosage and strength. I would have never thought that the major chain pharmacies would charge such different prices for the same drugs. I am definitely not an expert on prescription drug costs, but I am an educated consumer, and with all the healthcare reform pending, I feel obligated to be informed on how I can get the best possible price for my medication. Since we can’t clip coupons for our prescription medication, our only line of defense is to educate ourselves.”
Fortunately for prescription shoppers, there is a way to make sure you outsmart the pharmacies and get the best pricing EVERY TIME on your prescriptions, and it happens to be very easy and convenient to use. Discount Drug Network (www.discountdrugnetwork.com) offers a prescription shopping service both on their website or over the phone. On their website, they have a search engine that only asks for your zip code, drug name, and dosage information. It then searches the pricing databases for all your local pharmacies, and shows you the price for your prescription at each one. The search only takes a few minutes, but the savings can really add up! For those on the go or less internet savvy, you can just call their phone number and one of their Personal Prescription Price Shoppers (their light-hearted term for customer service agents!) will help you do the search and point you to the best pharmacy.
Discount Drug Network has their own discounted pricing agreements with the pharmacies as well, so you save even more money. They leverage good, old-fashioned group purchasing power by aggregating all the users who use their platform to make sure they help you get the best price. You can either print a card from their website or request that they send you a physical card for your wallet that gives you access to this negotiated pricing at over 66,000 pharmacies nationwide, including all the major retail chains and nearly all of your neighborhood independent pharmacies.