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Study shows it pays to shop around for prescription medicines

Study shows it pays to shop around for prescription medicines



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Paul Nelson reporting When it comes to prescription medicine, it pays to shop around. A nationwide magazine says prices can dramatically vary, depending on where you shop. What's more, some people are more than happy to pay a higher price.

In general, all pharmacies get their prescription medicine the same way.

Hyland Pharmacy owner Glade Baldwin said, "The fact is, we all pay within pennies of the same price for those expensive brand drugs. I pay the same price as a small store as one of the largest retailers pays for that same drug."

But the retail prices don't reflect wholesale prices at all, even for namebrand drugs. Consumer Reports says some patients could be paying more than $100 more at one pharmacy than they would at another. Baldwin says there are many factors that could affect the price of medicine, for instance, store hours.

"When you go to a store that's open until 9:00 or 10:00, you're going to pay a higher fee and a higher price fore those prescriptions than at a store that maybe closes at 6:00," he said.

Baldwin says he would have to pay at least $750,000 more every year if he ran a pharmacy that was open 24/7. He also says a pharmacy's location could jack up prices.

"It's expensive to be on the corner of the busiest street, and they (pharmacies) pay premium price for that property location," he explained.

But some people may not mind paying a higher price for drugs. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows many patients believe costlier medicine works better.

Broadway Pharmacyco-owner Chris Sotiriou said, "Patients that have to pay cash prices, they will shop around on some of the medications. Brand names are preferred in some instances."

Sotiriou says some patients won't buy generic drugs thinking they don't work as well, but sometimes the generic and name brand pills are practically identical. For example, the sleep aid Ambien.

Sotiriou said, "A lot of people have come in and said they don't think the generic works well, that they lie in bed at night and stare at the ceiling."

But Sotiriou says the only difference in those two drugs is the color of the pill dye. The only difference the generic version of the osteoporosis drug Fosamax has is the shape of the pill. There is no difference between the generic and name brand Protonix, the generic even has the name "Protonix" written on it. Sotiriou says not all generic brands are this identical to the name brand, but you can check to see if the active and inert ingredients are the same.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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