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Consumer Reports: So Many Drugstores, So Many Prices; New Report Finds Price Mayhem At The Pharmacy
Date:3/28/2013

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 cl
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SOURCE Consumer Reports
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