June 12, 2009
Let’s face it. Times are tough, and when we can save a buck or two on anything, including the medications we all seem to be gobbling by the handful, we need to do it - STAT.
I did a little leg work by contacting some of the major pharmacy chains in the area, to find out if they offer any special savings programs or pricing on generic medications – plus, I inquired as to what each pharmacy would charge for one specific medication, Lamotrigine – a generic drug that is not yet on any special pricing program list. I included this particular search because a lot of folks are out of work, and not everyone has prescription drug benefits, and there are a lot of medications prescribed by doctors that are not offered at a cheap price by pharmacies, and patients have to come up with hundreds of dollars to buy them. The sad fact is, sometimes it will come down to the choice between food and shelter, or an important medication – and that is a dangerous choice to have to make.
Below is a sampling of various discount and generic drug programs from some of the bigger pharmacy chains. As for the example medication, Lamotrigine - I was surprised by some of the prices and just plain shocked by others.
Walmart offers $4 for 30 days/$10 for 90 days on over 380 generic medications. Their price for our example, Lamotrigine 200 mgs/90 tablets is $363.32.
Target also offers $4 for 30 days/$10 for 90 days on over 300 generic medications. They also have a "Pharmacy Rewards" program. For every 10 prescriptions filled using a Target "Red Card" (Target brand Visa/Target Credit Card or Target Check Card) customers are awarded 10% off on a shopping day at Target. Registration for the Pharmacy Rewards program can be done on the Target website www.target.com, in the store, or by calling 1-877-RxTarget.
Target's price for Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets is $363.99.
Walgreens’ "Prescription Savings Club" is $12 for 90 days on over 400 generic medications as well as discounted pricing on other select medications, over-the-counter products and other store products. The annual club fee is $20 per person or $35 for an entire family. Membership may be canceled within 30 days of enrollment in the program.
Walgreens' price for Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets is $380.49.
CVS offers a "Health Savings Pass" - $9.99 for 30 days on over 400 generic medications. The Pass also includes 10% off a visit to the Minute Clinic located in many CVS stores. The Health Savings Pass annual fee is $10 per person. Membership may be canceled within 30 days of enrollment in the program.
You can pick up 90 tablets of Lamotrigine 200mgs at CVS for a whopping $741.00!
Rite Aid has a free savings card that includes $8.99 for 30 days and $15.99 for 90 days on over 500 generic medications. The card also is good for 20% off various select name brand and generic medications as well as 10% off Rite Aid brand products in the store.
Rite Aid sells Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets for $461.99.
Ralphs Market pharmacy has $4 for 30 days and $10 for 90 days on a list of over 400 generic medications.
Ralphs price on Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets is $357.19.
Sav-on pharmacy does not offer a generic program or a savings program.
Sav-on's price for Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets is $447.69.
Costco Membershp Warehouse doesn’t really count as a drug store chain, but it does have a pharmacy. I have included Costco in the study because the price I found for Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets was $27.31!! That is not the per-pill price either. That is the straight-up price for a 90 day supply of the very same medication the other pharmacies were charging upward of $300! Costco does charge a membership fee of $50, however with one pharmacy purchase the membership fee pays for itself.
Costco also offers a Costco Member Prescription Program with even lower prices on many medications for those who have no prescription drug coverage. Sign up at the store, or go to the Costco website www.costco.com .
Sam’s Club also sells Lamotrigine 200mgs, 90 tablets for $205.88. There is the possibility of a steeper discount through Sam’s “Advantage Plus” membership, which costs $100. The Advantage Plus membership affords many additional store discounts as well as discounted fees from cooperating physicians and dentists, health clubs and weight loss programs such as Jenny Craig and Nutrisystems. Find out more at www.Samsclub.com.
Many of the pharmacies above will do a little trick called "Price Compare", which means they will discount their price further - some all the way down to the least expensive price listed above, if the customer (1) asks them to and (2) the cheap price for the very same medication in the very same quantity can be verified.
Bottom line – do not be too shy to ask the pharmacist what kind of price comparison deals can be had. They will certainly want to keep your business, and you may be able to save hundreds of dollars!
There is another great option for those qualifying individuals who have no prescription drug coverage – The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPARx) program which is a cooperative between over 180 pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patient advocacy organizations and civic groups to help low-income, uninsured patients get free or nearly free brand-name medicines. Its mission is “ to increase awareness of and enrollment in existing patient assistance programs for those who may eligible”. To find out if you qualify to receive these benefits, just log onto their website www.pparx.org or call 1-888-4PPA-NOW (1-888-477-2669).