While we wish that cost was not a consideration when making health care decisions for our families, steps can be taken to minimize out of pocket costs for safe, regulated, FDA approved medicines.
Five ways patients can save money on prescription medicines (excerpted from our Health Policy Guide (the link doesn't exist anymore) ):
- "Shop around" to get the lowest price: The prices U.S. pharmacies charge for medicines can vary, but be cautious about buying medicines at a number of different pharmacies on the basis of low prices. It's best to buy medicines at one U.S. pharmacy that keeps track of everything so the pharmacist can monitor for potentially harmful interactions or contraindications.
- Consider using U.S. mail-order pharmacy services: Patients usually can order up to a three-month supply of prescription medicine for about 30 percent less than individual prescription refills would cost. A U.S. mail-order pharmacy can't fill prescriptions as fast as a local pharmacy, so mail order is usually best for people taking medicines for chronic conditions for long periods of time.
- Once a year, bring all your medicines to your health care provider: They can help you determine if less expensive versions have become available. If your insurance covers prescriptions, take your plan's formulary (list of covered medicines) with you to be sure that as many of your prescriptions as possible are covered.
- Look into patient assistance programs: Most pharmaceutical companies, along with government entities, health care providers and other organizations have programs to help people with low to modest incomes and/or no insurance coverage. Contact the Partnership for Prescription Assistance by phone (1-888-4PPA-NOW) or on the Web (www.pparx.org).
- Learn what help state and local governments may offer: Many states have programs to provide prescription assistance to people who are eligible
With growing concern about the costs of medicines, following these steps will help you reduce your prescription drug expenditures without exposing your family to potentially harmful and unregulated medicines shipped from abroad. To learn more about counterfeit medicines see my blog titled Efforts to Stop Counterfeit Medications.