Americans spend about $1,000 on prescription drugs a year on average — not to mention OTC drugs. Getting the lowest price on the drugs you need is a good thing, right? Yes and no.
We are seeing a lot of apps for smart phones that promise to help you find the lowest price on your prescription. The suggestion is that with every new prescription and with every refill, you the consumer should shop around for the best price. I don’t think that’s a good idea.
I like to save money as much as the next person. But I want full value for my dollars and I don’t want to risk the possibility of a harmful drug interaction. I get the drugs I need, and the advice, from my local pharmacist.
I suggest you commit to one pharmacy and — as much as possible — buy all your prescriptions, OTC medicines and supplements in one place. That’s because your pharmacist is the last chance to catch a risky drug interaction before it could land you in the hospital. But only if the pharmacist knows all the drugs you take and all the allergies you have. The pharmacist can flag an ingredient you’re allergic to, warn you of side effects and sometimes might even suggest safer, less expensive drugs than the ones prescribed.
Pharmacists are trained in drug therapy and should regularly review all the medicines (including OTC and supplements) that you use. If there’s a question on how a drug should be taken, a conflict, an allergy or even a mistake, the pharmacist will call your doctor to confer. And the pharmacist does this all for the price of the prescription.
Consulting with a Pharmacist Is Free
You don’t need an appointment or a co-pay to meet with your pharmacist. You can call or stop in to discuss how a new med is affecting you. And help doesn’t stop with prescriptions. Have athlete’s foot? Feeling nauseous? Your pharmacist knows what medicines are both effective and won’t interact with other medicines you’re taking.
Just as you would with any key member of your health team, shop before you need a prescription filled. Visit all the pharmacies in your area and ask to speak with the pharmacist. The wait should be only a few moments. If you take a medicine regularly, ask the price and see if they deliver. Make sure they regularly stock that drug. See if your pharmacist knows your doctor. Ask about herbal meds or supplements if you use them and see if he/she has similar views. In this way, you’ll find a pharmacist with whom you can feel comfortable discussing your personal questions.
Many Americans buy drugs from reputable online websites. I’ve heard some insurance companies require this. The websites do the best job they can to screen for problems, but unless you the consumer remembers and updates your drug/supplement/vitamin use and allergies, the website is limited. How does that website know you’re also taking a supplement that could cause an interaction? How do you ask the internet site what cold remedy won’t conflict with your asthma medicine?
Those who have a chronic condition that requires expensive medicine regularly will definitely need to find a good price for that prescription. No matter where you buy your drugs, I encourage you to meet and discuss your meds with the pharmacist.