How To Reduce Your Medication Costs (cont.)

Duplication of medications is another potential problem. This usually happens when a patient receives a prescription for similar medications from different physicians. In addition to the unnecessary costs, there may be risks to taking two similar medications. To avoid these unnecessary medication-related expenses, it is a good idea to ask your health care practitioner and pharmacist to review your medications periodically.

Herbal medications (alternative medications), nutritional supplements, and vitamins are very popular. Most individuals do not need these products and in most cases they have not been proven to be effective for the conditions for which they are used. They can interact with other medications, cause side effects, and also be expensive. Before purchasing these products, you should ask your health care practitioner about their safety and effectiveness. If they do not provide additional benefit, there is no need to purchase them.

What about the use of combination products?

Several conditions, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, are treated with more than one medication at a time. Several pharmaceutical companies manufacture medications that combine two of the most frequently used medications. These combinations are convenient, since only one pill must be taken, which may enhance compliance with taking the medications. Moreover, some combinations may be less expensive than the individual drugs.

Are generic drugs as good as brand names?

In most instances, generic drugs work as well as the brand name drugs. Unless your health care practitioner advises against the use of the generic product, it will be less expensive to use the generic product. All too often, individuals purchase the more expensive brand name drug because they believe that the generic equivalent is inferior. In most states, as long as the prescriber does not indicate otherwise, pharmacists are required by law to substitute generic products for brand name products.

Can I cut my pills?

Many drugs come in higher and lower strength tablets. If the price of a tablet that is twice the strength of a lower strength tablet is less than twice the price of the lower strength tablet, it is less costly to buy the higher strength tablet. A pill cutter can then be used to cut the pills in half. For example, if the cost of the 40 mg tablet is $1.50 and the cost of the 20 mg tablet is $1.00, it is less expensive to buy and split the 40 mg tablet than it is to buy the 20 mg tablet ($0.75 verses $1.00). This strategy only works, however, for tablets that can be split.

Is comparison shopping worth it?

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014