Prescription Drug Costs

Prescription Drug costs increase but consumers can pay less to get the same medication.   Drug sales representatives bribe doctors with vacations and other rewards to prescribe expensive medications.  Drug Sales representatives even buy food for doctor’s office staff.  Many doctors will prescribe the most expensive medications out of loyalty to the Sales Representatives.  If the doctors were not influenced, the drug companies would not pay such high salaries to the drug sales people.   If you do not want to not pay such a high mark up, you must firmly ask your doctor if there are any generic alternatives to the medicines that they prescribe.  If they do not know, you can look up the medications online at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/index.cfm to find the active ingredient and see if it is sold under the name of the ingredient or another name.  You can also consult your pharmacist or insurance provider.  Then call the doctor back and ask for a new prescription.   They should be able to call your pharmacy over the phone.  One great doctor that I see gave me two generic antibiotics for a secondary infection from a cold, one prescription was $4 and the other was $2. If you have health insurance and the prescription is for more than a month or two, ask you insurance company or human resources department about mail order drugs.  These can be ordered though the mail with an envelope and form provided by the insurance company.  You must have a 90 day prescription, not including refills.  Your doctor may add ninety day refills on the prescription, of course.  Just remember to always ask you doctor for a ninety day prescription if you will need to take the medicine for that much time.    If you did not get the ninety day prescription you may download or request a fax form.  This form can be faxed to your doctor’s office and they just fax in the form to the fax number provided.  You simply add your name and information to the form.  You doctor will add the prescription.  If you do not have health insurance you can contact the drug maker to discuss a lower or zero price of you can not afford the drug.  In some cases an even less expensive method is available.  Some medicines become over the counter medications.  I once had a pulled muscle and my doctor prescribed a brand name medicine that contained ibuprofen.  I asked him if I could just take Advil.  He said yes just take three at a time.  At Costco Wholesale I bought a bottle of generic over the counter ibuprofen that compared to Advil and took three a day.  I have used these pills when ever I had a headache or muscle soreness and the bottle still has not run out.  The military has done studies to show that aspirin and other medicines can be stored for longer than we previously thought.  The total cost was $7.  Another good doctor told me to get Afrin when I have a cold which is over the counter.  Costco had a generic of this too.  Claritin and other prescription drugs are now available this way. 

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1 Comment

  1. Brock Knez said,

    January 29, 2007 at 6:15 am

    According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the fastest growing part of our rising health care costs is prescription drugs. AARP has watched this trend and reported that the rising cost of prescription drugs is far outpacing the rate of inflation. These rising costs have resulted in huge profits for the drug companies. Fortune magazine has reported that for eight straight years (1995 to 2002), drug companies were the most profitable industry in the United States. Where do these profits come from? Right out of the pockets of consumers who pay overly high prices for their prescriptions, insurance premiums, and co-pays. Things have gotten so out of hand that in 2003 a national study showed that nearly one out of four Americans with a chronic medical condition did not fill all of their prescriptions because they could not afford to.

    Drug companies claim they charge such high prices to fund research and development, but the companies’ own financial reports tell a different story. For example, the drug company Pfizer had 2004 net income (profit) of $11.4 billion, even after paying research and development expenses. Anyone who watches the evening news knows where the drug companies really spend their money. Just count the number of drug commercials you see in half an hour. Families USA published a report showing that the major drug companies spend far more on marketing, advertising, and administration than on research and development.

    Why the emphasis on advertising to consumers and marketing to doctors? Because the most expensive medications must be prescribed and purchased in order for the drug companies to reap their enormous profits. High prices can be charged for newer medications, because drug companies have patents on these drugs, eliminating competition from generic drug manufacturers. What the drug companies don’t want you to know is that there are almost always effective, less expensive, medication alternatives. Consumers and health professionals have had limited access to information comparing the effectiveness of various drugs used to treat the same condition. With the growing number of new drugs, it is difficult for consumers, and even for health professionals, to decide which medication best fits a particular need. This plays into the hands of the drug companies who are able to effectively promote the expensive medications. Meanwhile, no one is promoting the less expensive alternatives, which are easily forgotten.

    I started LowerMyDrugBill.com with another pharmacist and a physician in order to empower the public with information on lower cost prescription drug alternatives. Beginning Wednesday January 31st, the site will be entirely free. It has a database of drug reports for specific drugs and doses which can be taken to a patient’s healthcare provider in order to switch to a less costly prescription alternative. It provides drug dose conversions and is in an easy to read format.

    Don’t waste your green on the Purple Pill!!!


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