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Prescription for Savings

Prescription for Savings


Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on January 18, 2010 at 10:58 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 18 at 11:02 PM

A new Government Accountability Office study shows name brand prescription prices are skyrocketing. In fact from 2000 to 2008 the price increases ranged between 100 percent to 499 percent. In a few cases the increases were more than 1,000 percent.

The study looked at 426 brand-name drug products. Those with the biggest price increases, those that were up 100 percent or more, were in three therapeutic classes—central nervous system, anti-infective and cardiovascular.

For example, "26 brand-name drug products had extraordinary price increases greater than 1,000 percent—a tenfold increase. The largest extraordinary price increase for brand-name drug products was about 4,200 percent. (See table 2 for the frequency of extraordinary price increases by percent increase.) In addition, 7 brand-name drug products had extraordinary price increases of 500 percent or more multiple times from 2000 to 2008."

Here's how the report breaks it down:

• Central nervous system—126 brand-name drug products had extraordinary price increases. Central nervous system drugs include sedatives and anti-depressants and are typically used to treat depression or anxiety.

• Anti-infective—55 brand-name drug products had extraordinary price increases. Anti-infective drugs are used to treat infections caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses.

• Cardiovascular drugs—35 brand-name drug products had extraordinary price increases. Cardiovascular drugs are used to treat conditions like anti-arrhythmia agents used to treat the heart.

Why the increases?

According to the research limited competition and lack of equivalent drugs are partly to blame.

How to save on prescriptions?

Even if you have health insurance, covering the cost of prescriptions can be tough. Most people don't realize that drug manufacturers often offer coupons for name brand drugs. So here are some ways to help you save on prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Several pharmacists I've spoken with say the first thing you should do is ask your doctor or pharmacist if they have any coupons or vouchers. More often in these days instead of giving samples, drug reps provide doctors and pharmacists with coupons or vouchers. So if you need help, ask.

Then check out some of these resources.

• A website called  OPTIMIZERx puts prescription deals all in one place. The site was put together by doctors and pharmacists. All you have to do is type in the name of your drug or pick a health area that applies to you. You can also find coupons for common prescriptions, both prescribed and over-the-counter.

You should be aware that under the sites privacy policy the website can and may share your information with outside marketing companies. Like most websites this one tracks which pages you are viewing.

You can save as much as $70 on some prescriptions, but most of the deals offered are rebates. That means you'll have to save your receipt and file the paperwork in the time allotted.

Keep in mind these discounts are not available to patients on Medicare, Medicaid or state sponsored programs.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is another great place to start. Here you’ll type in your medication and find out if the companies that make the product offer prescription assistance. This is a great resource for patients or caregivers.

To look up pharmaceutical company programs for your specific medicine go here. Plug in the name of the company that manufacturers your medicine then search for prescription help.

Consumer Reports has also put together a terrific guide to help you make better decisions about which medicines you choose to take. It will help you talk to your doctor about your prescriptions, and find the most effective, safest medicines as well as those that give you the best value for your health care dollar.