GoodRx blog a handy source of news on prescription drugs

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:

  1. Split a Higher Dosage Pill: Cut a higher-dosage pill in half to save 50% or more.
  2. 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 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.

This entry was posted in Prescription Drugs, Price Transparency and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to GoodRx blog a handy source of news on prescription drugs

  1. Marilyn Mitchell says:

    Are you familiar with http://www.rxcut.com/MNC00009

    great company. Love to talk with you. I live in D.C., maybe we can meet in old towne. In personal health biz http://www.atthecorecoach.com & very interested in self-
    pay model.

  2. James Foster says:

    I have searched the internet for years looking for a site that gives an actual cost (the wholesale cost) of prescription drugs that a pharmacy would pay. Finally, a site (prescriptionbluebook.com) was launched around November 2013. It is the only website on the internet that is available to the consumer. It was developed by a registered pharmacist with more forty years experience and ownership in the retail pharmacy business. For the consumer to know an actual wholesale cost of a drug to the pharmacy, the consumer can get a more realistic price and more savings. Discount prescription cards and sites actually increase costs of prescriptions to all consumers!

    • sean@impactpolicymanagement.com says:

      I can see where this site offers helpful information, but I’d caution people that knowing the wholesale price is not the same as knowing what a ‘fair’ or reasonable market price is for a specific prescription drug. Each drug has different storage and handling requirements, expiration periods and wastage rates, shipping costs, and so forth. It’s not as simple as saying “Oh, if I pay 20% over wholesale that will give the pharmacy a reasonable profit.”

  3. Jerome Bigge says:

    Does rather explain why Americans pay so much for their drugs compared to those fortunate enough to live in countries where the government is “on the side of the people” instead of being “on the side of business” as ours is.

    • sean@impactpolicymanagement.com says:

      Eh, not sure I’d agree with that – other countries have price controls, which I suppose some might regard as ‘on the side of the people,’ but in this case it just means other countries free-ride off of us and actually help drive our prices higher – costs not recouped in other wealthy nations have to be recouped here in the U.S.

      • Jerome Bigge says:

        Was referring to James Foster’s comment on the difference between the wholesale price of drugs and what is charged by the drugstore. If you visit the site mentioned (they want $4 a month for a subscription) it shows that there is a big markup in drugs between the wholesale price and the price charged the consumer at the drugstore. So the difference between the wholesale price that the drug company charges and what the drugstore charges could be part of the reason why Americans end up paying “more” for their drugs than what people living elsewhere in first world nations end up paying for the same drug.

  4. Pingback: A new source for drug pricing information, Prescription BlueBook |

  5. Pingback: Self-Pay Prescription Drugs Cheaper than Co-Pay | Junior Ganymede

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