These days the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is enough to give you a heart attack. If medication drug costs have got you down, cheer up! Then check out these seven ways you can save money on prescription medications—plus where to get some medicines (antibiotics!) for free.
What a fantastic resource. GoodRX is a website with no sign-up or credit card required. Just type in the drug name or download the mobile app for IOS and Android—to compare prices at different pharmacies in the area AND get coupons to cut the cost even further. Sounds like a hoax I know, but it’s not. This is one of the best reliable resources on the Internet. Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies and GoodRx finds you the lowest prices plus discounts on top of the published price.
Here’s an example in the Los Angeles area as I update this information for 90 capsules of 300mg Gabapentin (generic Neurontin): Ralphs: $11.97; Costco $13.36; Target $17.10; Rite Aid $22.59; Walgreens $23.59. Within just a few miles the price for that particular medication is all over the place. GoodRx.com makes sure you find the lowest price available.
Here’s another example: 30 tablets 40mg Lipitor (generic). The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of atorvastatin is around $3.60, 97% off the average retail price of $127.16.
Another site you might want to check if you can’t afford your medications: NeedyMeds.org. The site lists programs that help people reduce their healthcare costs, including patient assistance programs and co-pay cards offered by drug companies. Coupons and rebates, too. NeedyMeds also offers a free drug discount card.
The doc talk
Usually, doctors don’t keep up with the retail price of medications they prescribe—they’re thinking in terms of successful treatment, not dollar signs. A pharmacy tech told me recently that routinely she recommends patients call their doctor for a cheaper option once she shows them what the medication prescribed will cost. Don’t be afraid to make that call. More than likely there is a less expensive option that will be just as effective.
pill splitter just might save you 50% on the cost of your medication. Because of a quirk in how some drugs are priced, a tablet that’s twice as strong as another may not be twice the price. In fact, it might be about the same price. So, sometimes, cutting a higher strength pill in half can get you two doses for about the price of one.
With a little manual labor—just snapping down the lid of a pill cutter with your finger—splitting a pill can save quite a lot of money. Talk to your doctor, first! Not all prescription pills are splittable, but the one you take just might be.
According to WebMD, some pills that are commonly split include statins like Crestor, Lipitor, and Pravachol; antidepressants like Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft; ACE-Inhibitors like Monopril, Prinivil, Univasc and Zestril; and angiotensin receptor blockers like Avapro and Cozaar.
From time to time government programs, non-profits and drug manufacturers offer deeply discount or even no-cost medicines. To find out the latest information on what is available, I highly recommend the Partnership for Prescription Assistance website. Once there, simply enter the name of the medication or the manufacturer then click “Get Help Now” to discover if there are currently programs and assistance with the cost of that medication.
Check out these six pharmacies that offer free antibiotics (with a doctor’s prescription).
Big box store programs
Many discount store chains like Walmart, Publix, Target, Meijer, and Costco offer deeply discounted generic medicines for $4 to $10. Some medicines, like antibiotics or prenatal vitamins, are offered free at some of these stores. Costco’s assistance program is available for members only and it is fantastic—well worth the price of membership if you do not already have prescription drug insurance coverage. (Some state laws require discount warehouse clubs like Costco to allow non-members to use the pharmacy, but the assistance program that reduces the prices even further is for members only.)
Buy in bulk
Certain medications (cholesterol statins for example) are often available for a greatly discounted price in a 90-day supply. You may be required to order by mail order to get that price. It’s sure worth looking into.
First published: 9-05-16; Updated 4-12-19
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