Prescription Drugs … Some Dirty Little Secrets

Prescription Drugs … Some Dirty Little Secrets

What do we know about prescription drugs … everyone says they cost too much … lots of people have to choose between buying food or filling a prescription.

If you have insurance you just go to whatever pharmacy is most convenient for you … but if you don’t have insurance you thought they would be cheaper at Wal-Mart … after all they have that program for some popular generic drugs that’s are only $4 for a 30 day supply or $10 for a 90 day supply … so it just stands to reason they must have the cheapest price for brand name and generic drugs not included in their discount program right?

Well I’m here to set you straight. Here’s how I found out about pharmacies dirty little secrets. Because of several serious health issues I am unable to function enough to work and have been receiving Medicaid assistance from the state for health care services and prescriptions … I take 21 different prescription medications daily. I was recently approved for social security disability … that’s great, but unfortunately because I am getting more than $675 a month from social security I am no longer eligible for Medicaid and once you start social security disability you have to wait for 24 months before you can apply for medicare. So for the next 2 year I have no coverage at all.

Now if you haven’t heard … let me tell you that many brand name pharmaceutical companies have low income patient assistance programs that will give you medications for free and there is a non profit organization called Medbank that coordinates applying for assistance to multiple companies and organizing the delivery and subsequent refills of the drugs provided by those companies. As I mentioned earlier I’m taking 21 different drugs … well I am able to get 14 of those thru pharmaceutical companies low income patient assistance programs (For which I am extremely grateful) … of the remaining 7 all of them are generics … some are for pain management. Now you probably heard that generic drugs are cheap and you are thinking … no problem. Wrong. Generics can be expensive too!

The lady at Medbank sent me one of those drug discount card for people without insurance and I found several other discount drug programs online … they all work the same way … they have a claim number on them and the pharmacist puts in that claim number and it puts the medication at the price listed by their discount plan. In fact some of the plans you can go to their site and put in your prescriptions and they will list what local area drug stores charge for them. Below are drugs and pricing from CVS and RITE-AID using one of those discount programs … you might notice there is a gigantic $400 difference between the two!

I thought it was the drug companies ripping us off on drug prices … I was wrong …. It is the pharmacies who are making the big money. A $400 difference on 7 prescriptions is OUTRAGEOUS. To add insult to injury Ranitidine, Furosemide and Metformin are all on the $10 for a 90 day supply on the Walmart plan. So for just those three medications means $30 versus $338.91 at CVS or $99.96 at Rite-Aid.

But wait … There’s more … I obviously could not afford to buy my 7 remaining generic medications at either of those above so I decided to make a printed list of the medications and quantities of each I required and get price quotes in person from 5 different pharmacies. So what did I find out? Well I went to Wal-Mart and 4 other non big box pharmacies and the most shocking thing I found out … I asked them to also check the prices using 4 different prescription drug discount cards and guess what … using those drug discount cards actually gets you charged more than the pharmacy normally charges! Then I found out that just because Wal-Mart has cheap discount programs on some generic drugs doesn’t mean they are price competitive. Below is a table of the price quotes. Look at the price differences … if we can assume the lowest price is more than the pharmacies actual cost then difference in the lowest and highest represents a huge profit for those pharmacies … a bit usurious for a 5 minute transaction.

Now I explained my financial and medical situation at each pharmacy and the one that is the lowest I am sure gave me a huge price break …but for the others … isn’t it outrageous that they can make such a large profit on something that can determine whether you live or die!

Drug Quantity Walmart Tri-towns Reeds Med-Saver The Winner!
Endocet 10-325 tablet 120 126.54 112.39 122.12 89.26 29.50
Morphine Sulfate ER 30mg tablet 60 76.32 81.39 58.29 47.74 22.74
Zolpidem Tartrate 10mg tablet 90 87.32 45.00 52.63 52.63 11.59
Potassium CL er 20meq tablet 90 48.84 20.00 51.27 43.97 48.50
Ranitidine 150 mg tablet 180 10.00 23.00 24.95 10.00 10.00
Furosemide 20mg tablet 90 10.00 12.00 10.97 10.00 10.00
Metformin 1000 mg tablet 180 10.00 22.00 12.00 10.00 12.36
Cost Totals $369.02 $315.78 $332.23 $263.60 $144.69

The difference between the highest price $369.02 which was at Walmart and the lowest price … at the pharmacy I choose that I haven’t named is an outlandish $224.33

So my advice to you is if you have to pay for your own medications you better shop around, try the smaller home town pharmacies and throw away those drug discount cards because they are raking in money at your expense!

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