Shop around before you buy generic drugs

June 23, 2009 5:41:53 PM PDT
For those who don't have health insurance, paying for prescription drugs out of pocket is a major burden."I have a lot of people telling me they cannot afford their drugs," said Dr. Cyril Wolf.

That's why family doctor Cyril Wolf tells all of his patients to shop around, because prices for the exact same drugs do vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.

"They need to be aware at what the difference is," said Dr. Wolf.

We wanted to check it out for ourselves. Dr. Wolf gave us a list of 13 popular brand name drugs he routinely prescribes. Since most doctors agree the generic generally is just as effective as the brand name drugs, we shopped around for the generic versions.

First up, Zocor, a drug used to treat high cholesterol. The generic version retails for $179.89 at Walgreen's compared to Costco's price of $7.39.

"It's a $170 difference," said Dr. Wolf.

The generic version of Altace costs $167.89 at Walgreen's but at Costco we pay only $17.45.That's a savings of $150.

Accupril's generic version costs $84.59 at CVS, but once again at Costco we found the price much cheaper for $17.10.

"Even at that one, we are looking at an 80% difference," said Dr. Wolf.

Both Wal-Mart and Kroger had the best price on the generic version of Cipro for $4 while the most expensive price was $32.99 at Walgreens.

According to our research, we found Walgreen's generics to be more expensive in eight out of the 13 drugs while Costco was the least expensive in eight out of 13 drugs.

Dr. Wolf isn't surprised by our results. With so many locations and extended hours he says high-end drug stores like Walgreens can charge more.

"They all have their reasons why they do this and anyone is entitled to charge what they want," said Dr. Wolf. The bottom line is before you leave the house to drop off your prescription, pick up the phone and call several pharmacies for prices.

The Costco prices are for members only, but non-members may purchase prescription drugs for two to three dollars more.

Walgreen's told us customers can save big bucks by enrolling in their savings club program, which costs $20 a year, but could cut the prices by 50% or more.

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