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Costs Can Vary By $100 or More for Same Drugs
Date:5/5/2008

It pays to shop around for the best prescription prices, survey finds

MONDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Prices of prescription drugs can vary by $100 or more for the same drug from store to store -- and even within the same chain. So it pays to shop around, a new survey found.

But the survey also found that consumers are less likely to consult with pharmacists about the drugs they're using than they were in the past, which can lead to serious consequences in terms of drug interactions.

"More people are paying a higher percentage of out-of-pocket expenses for their prescriptions than they did in 2002," said Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports magazine, which conducted the survey.

"In our survey, we found that there was a significant price difference, not only for the same drug at different stores, but there were price differences within the same chain and the online price," Marks said. "Sometimes those prices can be significantly different."

The findings were published in the June issue of Consumer Reports.

For the survey, the magazine called 163 pharmacies nationwide to determine price differences for four prescription drugs -- three name brand medicines and one generic.

The price for a three-month supply of the urinary incontinence drug Detrol ranged from $365 to $551. The price for Plavix, a drug that prevents blood clots, ranged from $382 to $541. Prices for Levoxyl, a treatment for hypothyroidism, varied from $29 to $85. And the costs for the generic osteoporosis drug alendronate ranged from $124 to $306, the survey found.

Costco was the cheapest source for the four drugs, while Walgreens and Rite-Aid were among the most expensive, according to the survey.

The survey also found that consumers shouldn't rule out independent drug stores -- while they may not be the cheapest, their prices are competitive, and they offer top service.


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