Guest Columnist
5 Prescription Myths That Cost Consumers Money
Feb 18, 2010 - 11:11:48 AM

( - In these difficult economic times, saving money has become a way of life. Unfortunately, Americans have been trimming costs on items vital to their health. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 53% of Americans cut back on healthcare last year because of cost concerns, with 21% cutting back by not filling a prescription.

There are ways to save money on prescription drugs without skimping on your health. It’s time to debunk the following prescription drug cost myths.

1. My physician would have told me if there was a lower-cost option.

Physicians are focused on their patients’ health and often don’t have time to study the costs of the more than 10,000 prescription drugs on the market, let alone the ins and outs of each patient’s health plan. In one study, over 80% of physicians felt it was the pharmacist’s job to discuss costs with the patients.

What can you do? Talk to your pharmacist about therapeutic alternatives to your prescription drugs.

2. My pharmacist would have told me if there was a lower-cost option.

There is a shortage of pharmacists in the US and while they would like to consult with patients, many don’t have the time to help each person optimize their prescription use. Also, your retail pharmacist wants you to keep coming back so he/she is unlikely to encourage savings opportunities like mail order and may even be hesitant to encourage 90-day retail.

What can you do? Ask your pharmacist about lower-cost options for your drug plan design.

3. Prescription prices are the same everywhere.

Prices can vary dramatically between pharmacies, especially on generics. In one study, prices varied as much as 1,000% for cash paying customers. Also, getting 90-day prescriptions through the mail or sometimes at your local pharmacy can save you money.

What can you do? Ask your health plan for an online comparison tool and research prescription drug costs in your area.

4. Generics aren’t as effective as brand name drugs.

Generic drugs have the exact same active ingredients and side effects as brand drugs. They are less expensive than brand drugs because the manufacturers aren’t starting from scratch when it comes to the costs associated with developing and marketing a new drug. In addition, brand drug manufacturers make approximately 50% of the generic drugs themselves under other names.

What can you do? Go to the FDA website and read their educational materials about generic drugs and ask your doctor to prescribe.

5. My adherence to my medication doesn’t affect overall healthcare costs.

In one study, the annual healthcare costs of a person with diabetes who didn’t take his medication were twice that of a diabetic person who adhered to his medication plan. Non-adherence to medication is estimated to cost the healthcare system $290 billion a year. As many as 30% of people never fill their first prescription and more that 50% of people stop taking their long-term medications within 12 months.

What can you do? Research the medications that you are on and understand how other patients have used them and the time it takes for them to work. Never stop taking a medication without discussing it with your physician.

For further information: Silverlink

George Van Antwerp is the Vice President of Solutions Strategy at Silverlink Communications. George has deep expertise within the Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) sector, previously holding senior director and consulting positions at Express Scripts and Ernst & Young. His insights about healthcare can be found on his popular blog, Enabling Healthy Decisions

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