I’ve mentioned GoodRx before, a site that allows consumers to quickly find the prices charged by local pharmacies for prescription drugs. In fact, I used the site myself when I was shopping for medicines before my surgery in August.
The site is pretty self-explanatory. You go to the site, enter in the drug you’re looking for as well as your zip code, and it will pull up the listed cash prices for pharmacies in your area. Because prescription drug prices can vary substantially from store to store, the savings can be significant. There’s also helpful information that can be used to save even more money.
For example, I typed in Xanax, a drug that is commonly used to treat anxiety and panic attacks.
One of the helpful things about GoodRx is that it pulls up information on both the generic and branded versions of drugs. So the first search result provides the information on the generic drug, but you can easily click over to the branded version as well.
In my area of Alexandria, Virginia, prices for the generic version (alprazolam) ranged from $8.14 to $22 for 90 tablets at .5mg strength. There were also estimated prices of $5 for a local ‘membership warehouse pharmacy’ (apparently they aren’t allowed to identify them online, but you can assume they’re talking about a Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club) and $45 from a nearby chain pharmacy location.
Switching over to the Xanax branded medicine, the prices jump substantially, and range from $215.31 to $233.19. Nearly all of the pharmacies listed will be recognized by most people – CVS, Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid, Safeway, Target, and Walmart among them.
Both the generic and the branded search results also include tips right at the very top for additional savings. For Xanax (both branded and generic) it provides two tips:
- Split a Higher Dosage Pill: Cut a higher-dosage pill in half to save 50% or more.
- Cheaper Alternative: Less expensive drugs that work the same way may be available.
Splitting pills is a fairly common way to cut drug costs substantially. Stronger dosages are typically only a little bit more expensive than the lower doses. For example, the prices given above are for .5mg strength tablets, $8.14 cents for 90 at one local pharmacy. But for a 1mg dose, the price at another pharmacy is $9.67 for 90 tablets.
But the second tip can also be a big help. Often there are multiple medications available that can treat the same condition, and some of those can be less expensive than what you’ve been prescribed. In the case of the Xanax, another drug in the same class is Klonapin. Generic prices for Klonapin (clonazepam) aren’t much different than the alprazolam, but the branded version can be had for $183.66, about a 15% savings.
Of course it’s possible that less expensive alternatives won’t be as effective or will have more serious side effects, just as is the case with generics. But by providing this wealth of information, GoodRx is a great resource for people looking to cut their prescription drug costs.
One thing that should be noted, most of the prices I see require that you download a coupon from the site to get the discount. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem in most cases, but it does mean you shouldn’t just check the price on GoodRx and then run out to the store and assume you’ll get that price just by saying you saw it on the internet.
Another great feature about GoodRx is that you can put your medications into their system and receive price information as your prescription nears it’s refill date.
I’ve described GoodRx and similar sites before (WeRx is another great site, as is RxPriceQuotes), so this should be familiar to regular readers of The Self-Pay Patient blog. What I really wanted to share today was their blog, which includes a lot of terrific information about prescription drugs, some of it related directly to saving money, but a lot of it just general information about specific drugs that can be helpful as well.
For example, the last week or so has included blog posts on:
- The FDA’s approval of Farxiga to treat Type II diabetes
- A shortage of liquid Tamiflu
- Information on the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome
- An overview of specialty pharmacies and specialty medicines
- A comparison of three medications used to treat Type II diabetes
The articles above aren’t directly about saving money on prescription drugs, but some of the articles do include information that can help with that too. For example, the blog post about specialty medicines and pharmacies includes information about a variety of drug assistance programs, and the comparison of the three Type II diabetes medicines includes price information and notes that coupons are available that can lower the cost of the medicines by up to $100 per fill.
Prescription drugs are a major expense for many Americans, and the high deductible health insurance plans that are becoming more common have turned the insured into self-pay patients when it comes to much of their health care. For both insured and uninsured alike, both the main site and the blog are a gold mine of helpful information on how to get the most out of your spending on prescription drugs.