Americans Pay More for Prescription Drugs
While prescription drugs should be improving your health, it might be hurting your wallet. The Business Insider reports Americans have the highest prescription drug costs in the world. Americans pay more than twice as much for common prescription drugs than people in countries like Canada, Germany and Australia. TV20's Alex De Armas searched for places where you can get your meds for less but found something more in drugstore checkup.
When Michelle Clarkson was 13, she considered herself extremely flexible.
"I was doing gymnastics and all of my joints would keep dislocating," Michelle Clarkson (Gainesville resident) said.
Instead, it was a side effect of a rare genetic disorder.
"But it was that I don't have collagen correctly like most people do," Michelle Clarkson (Gainesville resident) said.
She has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. She takes 6 to 7 medications daily for the complications the syndrome causes.
"That one relaxes the spasms that occur a lot," Michelle Clarkson (Gainesville resident) said.
If it weren't for insurance she'd be paying $500 a month for her medicines.
"How much is the Naproxen?" Michelle Clarkson (Gainesville resident) said.
We called several pharmacies and asked how much Naproxen costs -- 500 milligrams -- a quantity of 90. We learned there's a difference, a significant difference; double, triple, quadruple the price. Anywhere from $6 to $35 for the same exact drug and quantity. How is this possible? We're talking about the same drug, same dosage, and same quantity.
"What CVS pays for may not be the same as Walgreens pays for and it almost certainly isn't the same as the privately owned pharmacies, what some call the mom and pops pharmacy, will pay for," Paul Doering (UF College of Pharmacy Professor) said.
Paul Doering with the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida says every corporation has a different pricing policy. He says the pharmaceutical manufacturing company sets a certain price, sells it to the pharmacy, and their accountants set their prices. Doering says the corporations take into account what he calls their "purchasing power." It's something a mom and pop pharmacy may not have.
"People go to a pharmacy because they need their prescription filled, but while they're there, they need light bulbs. They need soda pop, some other items and so forth. The prescription department may be what draws people into the pharmacy," Paul Doering (UF College of Pharmacy Professor) said.
He says they also strategically plan what drug gets what price.
"And I can't think of a better motto for the so called "loss leader" type of approach. "Loss leader" says we're willing to take it in the chops on this drug, but we'll make it up on this one and this one," Paul Doering (UF College of Pharmacy Professor) said.
Let's take a look at what Doering is talking about by comparing the price for Victoza, a drug that treats Type 2 diabetes. This is a medicine he says is not a "loss leader" but "the new kid on the block." It's new and a brand name. This is one of those drugs that Doering says will be more expensive so that the more common drugs are inexpensive. This drug ranged in price from $449-$561, a $112 difference.
Using your smartphone is an easy way to search for what pharmacies near you have the most inexpensive drugs. Apps like Lowestmed, Prescription Saver, and GoodRx. They all work the same. You just put you prescription in and it does the rest. Despite the fact that Doering agrees the prices of some drugs might empty your wallet. He does recommend patients use one pharmacy, that way they get to know their pharmacist who will keep track of all medications in case of any drug interactions.
"You may be saving money in one regard, but you may be costing yourself not only money, but also getting the kind of care that you need."
As for Clarkson, she plans to search around and hopes to save what she can.
"I'm definitely interested in saving money where I can. I'm saving out of state tuition so it's nice to save every dollar I could."
Doering says the first way to save money on your medicines is to ask for the generic. He says generics must have the same active ingredients as the name brands. He says all generics are verified that they perform just like the brand named drugs. Now remember this report was done without including insurance to the puzzle. Alex De Armas, TV20 news.
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