4 Ways to Save Money on Prescription Medications

Not paying attention to where you’re buying your prescription drugs could cost you—to the tune of $100, or more, says a new Consumer Reports analysis.

Secret shoppers posing as uninsured consumers called 200 pharmacies nationwide in order to uncover the cost of a month’s supply of each of the five popular prescriptions that recently went generic: Lipitor, Plavix, Lexapro, Singulair, and Actos.

Costco proved to be the most cost-effective for consumers overall. The wholesaler’s pharmacies offered a 30-day supply of Lipitor for $17, Lexapro for $7, and Plavix for $15.

On the other end of the spectrum, shoppers who went to CVS risked paying up to five times more for some prescriptions. CVS charged $150 for a month’s worth of Lipitor, $126 for Lexapro and $180 for Plavix.

Why such a huge price difference for the exact same bottle of pills?

It all depends on how important the pharmacy is to a store’s overarching business model, Lisa Gill, a prescription drug editor for Consumer Reports explained in a company press release.

For example, a big-box wholesaler who boasts a wide product offering that ranges from chicken breasts to flat-screen TVs is likely aiming to entice consumers with their low-cost pharmacy, with the hopes that they will purchase other items.

How to save money on prescription drugs

Medicare will help cover the cost of an older adult’s prescription medications, but the program won’t pay for everything. (Learn what is and is not covered by Medicare, as well as the pros and cons of Medicare coverage)

Once you factor in monthly premiums, the plan’s deductible and the various co-payments involved, the cost of prescription medications can quickly add up.

Given that many of these men and women take at least half a dozen different prescriptions to help them manage everything from heart disease to diabetes, finding ways to keep medication costs down is vitally important for seniors and their caregivers.

Consumer Reports offers a few strategies for taming medication costs:

  • Opt for generics: Generics can be an extremely cost-effective alternative to brand-name drugs, if a senior can tolerate them. The patents preventing many popular senior medications from being able to be produced generically have recently expired. Talk to your loved one’s doctor to see whether any of their prescriptions can be swapped for generics.
  • Buy in bulk: People taking long-term medications (i.e. Lipitor to manage high cholesterol) may be able to reduce their costs by buying a 90-day supply versus a 30-day supply. Most retailers offer discounts for those who can purchase pills in bulk.
  • Ask for a lower price: Many of Consumer Reports’ secret shoppers weren’t provided with the lowest price for a particular drug right away, they had to dig a bit deeper and inquire about discounts and special offers before they hit upon the best price. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and try to unearth the best price for a given medication. According to Gill, “A consumer can’t assume that the price of their prescription medications is set in stone. One of the big takeaways is that you have to ask for the best price and see if your pharmacist will work with you.”
  • Don’t shun mom and pop drug stores: People assume that chain retailers automatically present the most cost-effective options when it comes to most items, including prescription medications, but Gill says this isn’t always the case. Independent pharmacies have an incentive to maintain a solid relationship with their customers, she says. Thus, they are more likely to help their regulars get the optimum price for their prescriptions.

Discover more money-saving tips and print out a pharmacy comparison checklist: How to Find Low Cost Prescription Drugs

Report Reveals Where to Buy Cheapest Prescription Drugs/a> originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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: By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor


Kevin D.
Kevin D.1 years ago

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Annie Lewis
Annie Lewis2 years ago

. Often times you can find better rates if you shop around to different pharmacies. There is a great, free website: WWW.MEDFISHER.COM that takes all of the legwork out of calling each pharmacy to see who has the best price. You can input your medication names and, based on the zip code that you enter, MEDFISHER will find pharmacies close to you that have the best rates. You can get your free voucher one of three ways: email, print or text. You take the voucher to the pharmacy when you get the prescription filled and, voila, the price you pay will be the price that was listed on MEDFISHER. No surprises! Here's a tip: If you are on a generic maintenance medication try looking it up on MEDFISHER to see what the price for a 90 day supply would be. You might be surprised to see that your prescription is less expensive for a 90 day supply with one of their vouchers than it is month-to-month with your insurance. It also works for Medicare Part D members who are in the coverage gap. It's free, easy and it could save you some money. And we all like that.

JD She
JD She3 years ago


Carol E.
Carol E.3 years ago

Millions of men and women devote billions of dollars each year on medicine at their local pharmacy. Unfortunately due to the price of operating a retailer numerous nearby pharmacies charge quite a bit much more dollars than their online competitors. As a result on-line pharmacies have grow to be very common with millions of folks. Depending on the medicine you need utilizing a web-based pharmacy can save you anywhere from several dollars to a few hundred dollars in several situations.

Christina Karachaliou

Very helpful post! Any information on how to save more on your prescriptions is always welcome!

After doing some research, I decided to enroll for the Free New Day Benefits Discount Pharmacy Card and I have to say that I am surprised at how much I can save with it! Generally, I save between 10% - 85% on generic and brand name prescriptions. And the best part is that it can be used for the entire family! All immediate family members can use the pharmacy discount an unlimited number of times per year at no additional cost! I highly recommend it!


Whitney DeSimone
Whitney DeSimone4 years ago

This article was really helpful! I've racked up a lot of money paying for my prescriptions every month. I went through numerous pharmacies to see if the cost could be cut down. It wasn't until I found this awesome blog (www.canadianpharmacymeds.com/blog) that directed me to a Canadian pharmacy. I was able to fill all of my prescriptions through them and cut my cost in half. It was awesome and highly recommended.

Linda Tabasky
Linda Tabasky4 years ago

Great advice! It's amazing how much drug costs differ from pharmacy to pharmacy. I use the drug savings site, http://medicationcoupons.com/, to get coupons and free health samples. It's definitely saved me money.

Marija Mohoric
Marija M4 years ago


Franck Rio
Past Member 4 years ago

Quite Interesting Article

Steffany Mohan
Steffany Mohan4 years ago

Well shared the ways to save money on prescription medications. I too agree with the fact that choosing generic option is a great way to save money. It has been found that around 80% of FDA-approved drugs have generic alternatives that cost an average of four times less than the brand-name versions.