Click here to close now.

SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: John Wetherill, Harry Trott, Roger Strukhoff, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

News Feed Item

Consumer Reports: So Many Drugstores, So Many Prices; New Report Finds Price Mayhem At The Pharmacy

Tips for getting the best prices when you shop at the pharmacy; plus, why it pays to shop like a country mouse    

YONKERS, N.Y., March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers who don't shop around for their prescription drugs may be overpaying BIG time, explains Consumer Reports in its May issue.  Failing to comparison shop could result in overpaying by as much as $100 a month or even more, depending on the drug.   

Consumer Reports compared drug prices for five blockbuster drugs that have recently gone generic, including heart drugs Lipitor and Plavix, finding that Costco offered the lowest retail prices overall and CVS charged the highest.  The report is available wherever magazines are sold and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.  

And while Costco is a good bet for low drug prices, consumers may find a good deal too at their local independent pharmacies.  "A consumer can't assume that the price of their prescription medications is set in stone. One of the big takeaways is that you have to ask for the best price and see if your pharmacist will work with you.  Especially for the independent pharmacies, if they want to retain your business and loyalty, they will help you get the best price," says Lisa Gill, editor, prescription drugs, Consumer Reports. 

One reason for the wild cost fluctuations may be that different types of stores have different business incentives, says Gill.  "It really comes down to a store's business model. For example, big box stores tend to use their pharmacies as a way to get consumers through the door with the expectation that they'll buy other things."           

Consumer Reports' secret shoppers called more than 200 pharmacies throughout the U.S. to get retail prices (what you would pay without insurance) on a month's supply of five blockbuster drugs that have recently become available as generics:  Actos (pioglitazone), for diabetes; Lexapro (escitalopram), an antidepressant; Lipitor (atorvastatin), for high cholesterol; Plavix (clopidogrel), a blood thinner; and Singulair (montelukast), for asthma.  The result? A whopping difference of $749, or 447%, between the highest and lowest priced stores.

Some price comparisons:

  • If you shop around, a month's supply of generic Lipitor will set you back $17 at Costco, CR's secret shoppers found.  However, if you fail to do your homework and purchase it from CVS, you could pay $150.  That's a difference of $133.  Rite Aid and Target were also pricey. 
  • For the antidepressant Lexapro, Consumer Reports found a month's supply available of the generic version at a cost of $7 at Costco and $126 at CVS.  Rite Aid, grocery stores, and Walgreens also charged high prices on average.
  • Generic Plavix, which is prescribed to people with cardiovascular disease, was also available at widely varying prices.  For example, on the low end, a month's supply was available at $12 through Healthwarehouse.com and $15 at Costco, while CVS quoted $180 when CR's secret shoppers inquired about prices.  
  • For the market basket of drugs CR checked, independent and grocery store pharmacies' prices varied widely between stores, sometimes offering the cheapest and the most expensive price for the same drug. So consumers should shop around.

HOW TO SAVE

Bear in mind that while some drugs are prescribed for a short term, others may be lifetime drugs, so you want to get the best price for the long haul.  "If your doctor prescribes Lipitor, you may be taking it for the rest of your life.  So it can really pay to shop around. You could save yourself thousands of dollars on that one medication," says Gill.  "Talk to your doctor about lower cost alternatives in the same class of drug. And make sure you have that talk when your doctor is about ready to write the prescription.  Once you're taking a drug and tolerating it well, your doctor might be less inclined to try alternatives," says Gill. 

Some tips for saving:

  • Request the lowest price.  CR's analysis reveals that shoppers weren't always given the best, lowest price. Make sure you ask.
  • Go with generics.  Generics are copies of brand-name medications whose patents have expired.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that generics contain the same active ingredients in the same strength as the brands they copy.  In addition, a generic must be "bioequivalent" to its corresponding brand, meaning that it delivers the same amount of active ingredients into a person's bloodstream in the same amount of time as the original brand.  Read more about generics at ConsumerReports.org.
  • Leave the city and shop like a country mouse.  CR found that some grocery-store and independent drugstores had higher prices in urban areas than rural areas.   For example, CR shoppers priced a 30-day supply of generic Actos at a pharmacy in Raleigh, N.C., for $203, while another pharmacy in a rural area of the state sold it for just $37
  • Get a refill for 90 days, not 30 days. Most pharmacies offer discounts on a three-month supply.
  • Look for additional discounts.  All chain and big-box drugstores now offer discount generic-drug programs, with some selling hundreds of generic drugs for $4 a month or $10 for a three-month supply.  Just make sure your drug is on the list. Offers vary and check the fine print.

MARCH 2013

The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.  We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

SOURCE Consumer Reports

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust...
Over the years, a variety of methodologies have emerged in order to overcome the challenges related to project constraints. The successful use of each methodology seems highly context-dependent. However, communication seems to be the common denominator of the many challenges that project management methodologies intend to resolve. In this respect, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be viewed as powerful tools for managing projects. Few research papers have focused on the way...
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, Netflix and so on is at the heart of CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...
As cloud gives an opportunity to businesses to buy services externally – how is cloud impacting your customers? In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Fabio Gori, Director of Worldwide Cloud Marketing at Cisco, provided answers to big questions: Do you see hybrid cloud as where the world is going? What benefits does it bring? And how does Cisco connect all of these clouds? He also discussed Intercloud and Cisco’s investment on it.
Containers Expo Blog covers the world of containers, as this lightweight alternative to virtual machines enables developers to work with identical dev environments and stacks. Containers Expo Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Bookmark Containers Expo Blog ▸ Here Follow new article posts on Twitter at @ContainersExpo
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
In their general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Michael Piccininni, Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation, and Mike Dietze, Regional Director at Windstream Hosted Solutions, will review next generation cloud services, including the Windstream-EMC Tier Storage solutions, and discuss how to increase efficiencies, improve service delivery and enhance corporate cloud solution development. Speaker Bios Michael Piccininni is Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation. He has b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption...
In a recent research, analyst firm IDC found that the average cost of a critical application failure is $500,000 to $1 million per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion per year for Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to the findings on the cost of the downtime, the research also highlighted best practices for development, testing, application support, infrastructure, and operations teams.
The OpenStack cloud operating system includes Trove, a database abstraction layer. Rather than applications connecting directly to a specific type of database, they connect to Trove, which in turn connects to one or more specific databases. One target database is Postgres Plus Cloud Database, which includes its own RESTful API. Trove was originally developed around MySQL, whose interfaces are significantly less complicated than those of the Postgres cloud database. In his session at 16th Cloud...
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide...
EMC Corporation on Tuesday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Virtustream. When the transaction closes, Virtustream will form EMC’s new managed cloud services business. The acquisition represents a transformational element of EMC’s strategy to help customers move all applications to cloud-based IT environments. With the addition of Virtustream, EMC completes the industry’s most comprehensive hybrid cloud portfolio to support all applications, all workl...
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, focused on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud platfo...
The speed of product development has increased massively in the past 10 years. At the same time our formal secure development and SDL methodologies have fallen behind. This forces product developers to choose between rapid release times and security. In his session at DevOps Summit, Michael Murray, Director of Cyber Security Consulting and Assessment at GE Healthcare, examined the problems and presented some solutions for moving security into the DevOps lifecycle to ensure that we get fast AND ...
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the...