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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, Aug. 9, 2013

How to get generic drugs even cheaper

Rx prices can vary by $170 among retailers

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Senate Bill 75, introduced on Wednesday, would allow patients to sue the person who prescribed medication if the user gets addicted.

By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Generic drugs now account for well over 80% of all prescriptions. Just 10 years ago, less than half of drugs sold were generics.

Much of the growth is because employers make generics extra-affordable through mail order programs (pharmacy benefits managers). Then you also have the grocery stores and big box retailers who do $4 generics. Meanwhile, a lot of breakthrough drugs that were patent protected are no longer so and are now selling as generics.

But what you don't know about the pricing of generics can hurt your wallet.

The big pharmacy chains discount generics 30% from the brand name price. So let's say the brand name is $100 dollars. The generic at CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens will be $70.

On the other hand, if you go to Walmart or Target, you can likely get that generic prescription filled for $4. And if you go to Costco, prescriptions are marked up 14% over cost. So if they buy that drug for $1, you will fill it for $1.14 while it could be $70 elsewhere!

Be sure when you go to your doctor to bring a list of the cheap $4 prescriptions. One regional grocer, Publix, even offers free antibiotics!

Meanwhile, a new report from The Florida Sun Sentinel finds the price of a prescription can vary by as much as $170 for a 30-day supply.

A reporter named Doreen Christensen called around to price a Lexapro prescription at a variety of retailers. Here's what she found:  "Costco $6.99; CVS $114.99; Publix $118; Sam’s Club $83; Target  $147.99;Walgreens $116.99; Walmart  $115.88 and Winn-Dixie $179.99."

The beauty of Costco is you don't need to be a member to use their pharmacy. Simply show up and explain you want a prescription filled. Many Costcos have a separate entrance for their pharmacies to accommodate walk-in non-members.