Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cutting pharm costs

…Stefanie Ferreri, PharmD, and Jena Ivey, PharmD, both pharmacists and assistant profs at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, offer the following tips for cutting medication costs.

…Be sure you aren’t taking more stuff than you need or is good for ya. HA has been telling you this. People sometimes just take stuff and don’t stop and the doctor never looks over the list. Bring in your pills next time and ask about them.

…Go generic, people! The average generic is $34, the average brand-name $119.

…Wal-Mart and others have $4 generics. A recent study of heart meds showed that many of the old, cheaper, off-patent drugs are better than the new ones.

…If a drug clocks in at some heart-stopping rate and has no generic, call the doc and ask for another one that might have a generic. Docs can’t keep track of what’s on every formulary (insurance co drug list), so you have to.

…Go for 3-mo supplies. Even in $4 generics, this can cut costs. (This can be a bad idea if you are not sure the drug will work or agrees with you—you may end up with a lot.)

…Those free samples? When they dry up, you may fall over when you hear what the drug costs. Proceed accordingly.

…See if you can get a higher strength and cut the pills in half. This can backfire if the pills are capsules, time-release, or weird shapes. Use your noodle!

…Your pharmacist can be your pal—talk all this over with him or her. Docs never have time.

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