Consumer Reports: How to save money on prescriptions

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Americans spend more money on drugs than people in any other country.

A recent Consumer Reports survey of people who take prescription medications found that high drug costs are forcing some of them to cut back on groceries, delay their retirement, or even take a second job. In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney reveals simple ways to save on the drugs you need.

When Tami Alpert went to buy a pair of EpiPens for her daughter's allergies, she was taken aback by the price which was close to $400 dollars. "I left the pharmacy having not purchased it so that I could talk about it with my husband and figure out what we were gonna do," she said.

Tami is not alone. In the survey, thirty percent of those facing a rising drug cost told Consumer Reports, they didn't fill the prescription. Consumer Reports shares four tips to help bring those costs down.

First, talk to your doctor. In an earlier survey, Consumer Reports found that 70 percent of people who asked their doctor if they could cut down on their medications, were able to eliminate at least one drug. So ask your doctor whether you still need all the medicine you're taking.

If a drug is necessary, ask your doctor about the cost. Most doctors do not regularly discuss drug costs with their patients. "Don't be afraid to take the lead on this," said Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports. "Asking your doctor for a cheaper alternatives can save you money. And using generics can save you up to 85-percent."

Tip number three: Think 90-day supply. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, you can save money by getting a 90-day prescription from your doctor.

Finally, always ask your pharmacist, "What's the lowest possible price you can offer?" That's what Tami did, and it saved her a lot of money. "A few hours later, my pharmacist called me back and said that he had actually gone and done his own research, and found additional coupons and that he was able to bring the price down. I think it was 147 or 48 dollars. I felt so relieved," she said.

And here's a bonus tip: Consumer Reports secret shoppers called over hundred fifty pharmacies across the country to compare prices, and found that the cost of the same prescription can vary by hundreds of dollars, even in the same town. So, it can really pay for you to call around, too, to find the best price.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Written and produced by Justin Mendoza
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