Prescription Savings Ideas

Posted by Pharmacist on May 23, 2010

How do you save on prescription drugs?  Get your pharmacist and pharmacy technician involved.  That is what we are here for!  As a pharmacist, I have come to know some of the tricks to getting the right drug therapy at the right price.  For example, both of my daughters have had several ear infections and both have had tubes put in.  Once the tubes were in, a prescription for a brand name ear drop Ciprodex was written for.  As a pharmacist, I knew to fill the prescription as written it was going to cost over $100 out of pocket.  There is no generic for this drug, but I also knew that it is actually just ciprofloxacin (antibiotic) mixed with dexamethasone (steroid).  Each of these are available as generic eye drops.  After asking the ear doctor if we could instead have a prescription for generic eye drops, he readily agreed and I walked out paying $3 vs $100 with the same drug needed to fight the infection.  Had I not mentioned it, our doctor told us that he would not have thought of prescribing that, although it is just as effective.

Another example, a friend had a Bactroban cream prescription for an infected toe that was going to cost $50 out of pocket.  There is no generic for this formulation, but there is a for Bactroban ointment.  It has the same percentage of the active drug (mupirocin) and would have the same expected clinical response, again the difference being cream versus ointment.  The other difference would be the cost, $3 vs $50.  A quick call to the doctor’s office and they were happy to change from a cream to an ointment.

So, what can you do to save on drug costs?

-First ask your doctor if there is a generic to the drug that he or she is prescribing.  If there is, you will pay much less.  If your doctor tells you that there is not, ask your pharmacist for advice.  There may not be a generic, but there may be something that is similar for a much lower price.  Most physicians are happy to write a different prescription to save you some money.

-Always ask your doctor if they have any samples, especially if this is a one time prescription.  Your doctor is more likely to have some samples on hand.

-Consider filling your prescription via the internet.   Internet sites do not have the same overhead that retail stores have and can therefore offer bigger discounts.  To avoid internet fraud, always use the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy ( to find an internet pharmacy, as they carry a list of recommended internet pharmacy sites that are legitimate.

-Join your retail pharmacy’s drug discount program.  They will provide better savings for people who are not enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare.

-Check some of the programs available online.  One good program is .  For a one time fee, they provide rebates on items that are typically not covered by insurance.  Vitamins, pain relievers, skin care products, and other items fall into this category.

-Finally, always ask your pharmacist or certified pharmacy technician!

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