The demand for prescription drugs continues to rise. Prescription drugs account for 10% of all national health care spending and that number is expected to accelerate over the next several years due to a few main factors, including utilization. More prescription drugs are being prescribed than ever before and with all of the generics and lower-cost options available, you may be able to help control some of these costs.
These costs affect everyone - whether or not you're currently taking a prescription drug. Here are some simple steps you can take to help you and your community save money.
- Lower-cost alternatives - In some cases there are a number of less expensive, but equally effective drugs your physician can choose from to treat your condition. Ask your physician what options are available, and work with him or her to determine if a less expensive drug is worth a try.
- Generic Equivalent Drugs - For many brand-name drugs, there are generic equivalents that can save you a substantial amount of money. Generics are the exact chemical equivalent of brand name drugs.
- If you are currently using prescription antihistamines, antibiotics, pain relievers or heartburn medications, there may be a generic available. Your doctor can tell you if there are generic options for the drugs you take.
- If there is not a generic equivalent available, there may be a generic alternative. Generic alternatives are not exact chemical equivalents, but are in the same drug category to treat the same symptoms. For example, Teveten® is not currently available in a generic form, but irbesartan (the generic of Avapro®) is clinically proven to be a safe and effective treatment for high blood pressure.
- Over-the-Counter Drugs - These are medications available without a prescription. Antihistamines, pain relievers and heartburn medications can often be purchased over the counter for less than your prescription co-payment.
- Less Expensive Brands - Frequently, money can be saved by being aware of the cost differences between brand-name drugs in the same class. There are significant cost differences among antidepressants, cardiac drugs, antihistamines and many other drugs. While switching brands may not be for everyone, ask your doctor if your condition allows you to try a less expensive brand-name drug.
- Fewer tablets per day - Occasionally, when starting a new medicine, you will increase the dose until the desired effect takes place. Instead of just increasing the amount of pills you take, there may be a higher strength tablet that will allow you to take just one. For example, if you take two 50mg tablets each day, taking one tablet of the 100mg strength a day could save close to 50 percent of the prescription cost! Ask your physician or pharmacist if there is such an option for you.