Pay Less for Prescription Drugs

FRIDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The recession has made it more difficult than ever before for many Americans to afford prescription medications, but several options are available, according to an expert from Butler University in Indianapolis.

First, talk to your pharmacist, advised Carriann Richey, director of outreach and assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Butler's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Pharmacists may be able to recommend a lower-cost generic drug or an alternative, less expensive drug. Many pharmacies have low-cost options such as $4 generics or free antibiotics and prenatal vitamins. If your pharmacy doesn't have this program, ask if they will match other pharmacies' lower pricing, Richey suggested.

Here are some other strategies:

  • Go to a reduced-cost or free clinic, where health care providers are trained to consider lower-cost alternatives and may be able to provide prescriptions at reduced cost or no cost.
  • Look into drug manufacturer or government programs. Some drug makers offer discount cards or programs for brand-name medications free or at reduced-cost. There are a number of Web sites that provide information about these programs, including www.benefitscheckup.org. In addition, some government agencies offer drug discount programs, and most states offer senior assistance plans.
  • Online and mail-order pharmacies that offer lower prices on prescription drugs may be helpful for people with chronic conditions. However, because of the time it takes to fill and ship orders, this approach isn't ideal for people with acute conditions. Look for online pharmacies with the VIPPS seal, which indicates the site is approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
  • In some cases, tablet-splitting can help reduce costs. But not all medications can be split, and not all tablet-splitting will save money. Patients should check with their pharmacist or physician before using this approach.
  • Getting food or heating assistance could free up money that could be used to pay for prescription drugs. Check into this type of help by contacting social service organizations such as the United Way.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and eating healthier foods, may reduce the need for medications.

More information

For information on Medicare drug benefits, see the Alzheimer's Association.

SOURCE: Butler University, news release, Oct. 27, 2009

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