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Shop around and save money with generic drugs.


Americans spend billions of dollars each year on prescription drugs, and the wise shopper - especially one who requires long-term medication and lacks insurance coverage - would do well to shop around. Drug prices not only vary throughout the country, but they can vary significantly within one community as well.

If you use prescription drugs on a regular basis, call several pharmacies in your area for a price quotation. You may be surprised to find how much you can save. Many widely used prescription drugs have been on the market long enough for their original manufacturers' patent rights to have expired. They may thus be available in generic form, and you can ask your doctor to substitute a less expensive generic, if available, for the brand name. This is especially important for the more costly drugs when the brand name may cost as much as two to three times the generic.

The differences can be enormous even with less expensive drugs. Your editor's wife was recently prescribed 100 tablets of a well-known thyroid medication at a cost of $15. Had her physician authorized a generic substitute, the same amount could have been given for only $1! Because this particular drug, like many, may have to be continued for life, the savings can be substantial.

If you are in a community that is too small and isolated for you to be able to shop around, consider the possibility of ordering prescription drugs by mail. The American Association of Retired Persons, for example, provides a nonprofit mail-order service that may offer significant savings on all your prescription drugs. Membership is available to anyone age 50 or older, whether retired or not, at only $5 a year. Their address is: AARP, 3200 East Carson Street, Lakewood, CA 90712.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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