Survey finds huge price differences on common generic drugs.


Generic Drugs
Costs of Generic Drugs Differ

Consumer Reports, the most trusted source on consumer issues, recently completed a survey on the relative costs of generic drugs throughout the United States. It found that generic drug costs vary widely from store to store; chain to chain, website to website.

We all know how expensive prescription drugs can be. We’ve heard that in some cases seniors must choose between filling their prescriptions and buying food. On average, in 2012, Americans (not just seniors) spent $758 in out of pocket costs for medication. In its survey of 1,130 people who regularly took prescription drugs, Consumer Reports found that 12% spent more than $1,200 last year.

Consumer Reports’ secret shoppers also called over 200 pharmacies throughout the U.S. to get the price of a month’s supply of the five blockbuster medications that recently became available as generic drugs:

  • Actos (ploglitazone) for diabetes
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) an antidepressant
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin) for high cholesterol
  • Plavix (clopidogrel) a blood thinner
  • Singulair (montelukast) for asthma

They found a shocking difference of 447% (yes, I said 447% — that’s four hundred-forty-seven percent!) between the highest- and lowest-priced stores!

The least expensive overall: Costco. You don’t have to be a member to use its pharmacy. Just walk right in.

The most expensive retail stores: CVS, RiteAid, and Target. They do offer some services that Costco and Walmart do not, however.

Generic Drugs costs
Generic Drugs Cost Comparison by Consumer Reports

Some online retailers, such as and, also had good prices.

Professor of pharmacy economics at the University of Minnesota, Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, Ph.D., Pharm.D., says, “Big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart use the pharmacy as a traffic builder for their stores, whereas traditional chain stores, such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens, make the majority of their revenue and profits from the pharmacy.”


  • Always choose generic drugs over brand-name drugs.
  • Ask your doctor if there’s a less expensive alternative in the same drug class.
  • Request the lowest price. Student or Senior discounts may be available, but you have to ask.
  • Leave the city: grocery store pharmacies and independent drug stores often charge more in urban areas.
  • Get a 90-day refill, not a 30-day one, for a volume discount.
  • Check the retail price against your insurance co-pay. Sometimes it makes sense to just pay for it out of pocket.
  • Look for additional discounts. All chain and big-box drugstores occasionally run money saving promotions.

Note: Consumer Reports says medical consultants advise staying with one pharmacy, once you’ve done your research and found the best one for your needs. This keeps all your prescriptions in one system, which can prevent harmful drug interactions.

I don’t know about  you, but the information from this survey will affect my shopping habits, and not just on prescriptions. I don’t think I’ll be buying anything ever again at the stores that are ripping off their pharmacy customers.

To learn more, read this entire article at:

Related videos:

“Generic drug prices all over the map, finds survey” (CBS News Online: Charlie Rose)

 “Conversation about Drug Pricing” – (Khan Academy):



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