The most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2016 was atorvastatin calcium, the generic of Lipitor, according to LowestMed.com. This medication helps to lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Is it cheaper to buy from a Canadian pharmacy? We called a brick-and-mortar pharmacy in Vancouver and were told that a 30-day prescription for 100 20mg tablets of the generic would cost $53 CAD, or about $40 USD after the conversion and foreign transaction fee. A quick search on GoodRx.com shows that the same number of pills at the same dosage only costs $19.08 at any Kroger Pharmacy in the U.S. The same prescription cost over 50% less in the U.S. as it does in Canada.
Are generic drugs a big part of medications dispensed in America?
Of the 50 most frequently prescribed medications in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2016, only three were for brand-name drugs. Generic drugs are rigorously tested by the FDA, have the same amounts of active ingredients as the brand-name versions and are bioequivalent to the brand-name drugs, delivering the same amount of the active ingredients at the same rate into a person’s bloodstream.
How can I use this tip to save money for my family?
Talk to your pharmacist about price matching and cash prices
According to Consumer Reports, your local, independent pharmacist has the most flexibility to help you find the best price. Switching to a generic version of the drug or paying the cash price for a medication can lower your prescription costs. Believe it or not, sometimes it costs less to pay cash for a medication than using your insurance. Your local, independent pharmacist can tell you this. You can also use the prices you find from licensed U.S. pharmacies through GoodRX.com to ask your local pharmacist to price match. It is important to keep all of your prescriptions with your local pharmacist so that they can supervise your health care, especially for drug interactions.
Use medications discount programs like NeedyMeds and Medicine Assistance Tool
For years, the best advice we have given patients is to get a NeedyMeds discount card and to see if the Medicine Assistance Tool (MAT) program is right for them. The NeedyMeds discount card is entirely free, good in all fifty U.S. states and should absolutely be your first step for any savings plan. The best price that we were able to find at multiple zip codes throughout the U.S. was $17.82 for the same prescription. The MAT program matches patients who are under-insured with benefit programs provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers. If you qualify, you can get your prescription subsidized or even paid for entirely by the program.
Avoid too-good-to-be-true offers from the Internet
Americans looking for better prices on prescription drugs don’t have to look outside the U.S. Smart shoppers with the right information can buy what they need at a more affordable price and avoid the serious safety risks that accompany purchasing from unlicensed foreign drug sellers.