Prescription drug costs just keep going up. Rampant TV advertising to consumers and marketing to doctors isn’t helping any. Fortunately, you can find ways to reduce those costs. Use these tips to save money on your prescription medicines.

Use a Mail-Order Pharmacy
Most health insurance plans with prescription coverage offer a mail-order pharmacy. You can find out if yours does by calling them or logging into your health insurance plan online. With my plan, the mail-order pharmacy gives you three months for the covered price of two, even generics. They also include free shipping. To take advantage of it, you have to print out the form, get a prescription written for three-month refills from your doctor, and then mail or fax both to the pharmacy. You’ll get your first order a couple weeks later. Later refills can be requested by mail or online and take less time to process.

Use the Target or Wal-Mart Pharmacy
Both Target and Wal-Mart offer $4 generic prescriptions in most states. See if your state and prescription is on Target’s $4 generic drug list. You can also review Wal-Mart’s $4 generic drug list. The restricted states are the same. You should also note that Wal-Mart only offers that price on the “most commonly prescribed dosage.”

Ask the Doctor about Generics
New drugs are heavily marketed to doctors, and many of them prescribe those drugs as a result. Ask the doctor if an older generic is available and would be equally or more effective. For example, a new schizophrenia drug was found to be less effective than one that has been around since the 1950s, and had increased risk of serious side effects. Similar results have been shown with more common drugs for heart disease and cholesterol.

In some cases, you may have to stick with the name-brand. Even though the active ingredients are identical, the fillers are not and you could react poorly to the fillers. Many women have had problems with generic birth control pills causing more side effects than the name-brand versions.

Buy Over-the-Counter Alternatives
Several allergy drugs went over the counter at the same time as the generic was released to avoid losing money when patients were forced to switch to the generic by their insurance companies. The good news is that the generics are available over-the-counter, too, and are usually right next to the original on the shelf!

Be careful when opting for herbal supplements instead of prescriptions. Some herbs can negatively react with other prescription drugs. In some cases, they only make the prescription ineffective; in others they can actually be harmful to your health.

Consider a Canadian Pharmacy
I haven’t investigated Canadian pharmacies, but they’ve been helping seniors in the border states for years. Usually you fax your prescription to the pharmacy, which has it rewritten by a Canadian doctor. Recently, drug companies have been tightening supplies to Canadian pharmacies with online ordering and international shipping, so you might find that you can’t get some of the drugs you need.

Don’t even think about using a Mexican pharmacy. Unlike Canadian pharmacies, they don’t have the same quality standards as we do. They’re also known for selling counterfeits.

Get a Drugstore Prescription Discount Card
Although you won’t get the same low pricing as you’d get from full prescription coverage through your health insurance, you could try a prescription discount card. Mrs. Micah discussed her experience with using a free discount card from at CVS. I Googled “discount prescription card” and found ten more sites offering them. Check their drug lists to find the cards that cover your prescriptions.

Of course, the best way to save on prescriptions is to not need them in the first place. In addition to the above suggestions, ask your doctor if lifestyle and dietary changes might work just as well. Being healthy not only reduces your prescription and healthcare costs, it makes life more enjoyable.


8 Responses to “How to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs”

  1. Mrs. Micah on April 14th, 2008 11:41 am

    Some of the generic issues are also there with antidepressants and doctors don’t like to take chances on that. Unfortunately, this could have been avoided (perhaps) if the doctor had started with the generic to see if that worked.

    The YourRX card saved us a nice sum over the few months we had it. Thanks for the mention!

  2. Money Hackers Carnival #9 - Scream Edition! on April 22nd, 2008 6:10 pm

    [...] Sound Money Matters has some advice for reducing prescription drug costs. [...]

  3. 25 Ways To Save Money On Health Care | Moolanomy on April 24th, 2008 5:01 am

    [...] How to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs at Sound Money Matter [...]

  4. compassphs on January 5th, 2009 1:34 pm

    You might be surprised that during the deductible period of your pharmacy benefit your network “rate” for the prescription drug is more than what it costs to buy the drug from your pharmacy off network. In situations with relatively low cost prescriptions or generic prescriptions, just tell the pharmacist you don’t want to run the drug through your network and they will give you the consumer price. If you expect high drug costs with more expensive prescriptions to exceed your annual deductible, you may want to go ahead and take the higher drug rate in your network just so you burn through your deductible faster and get to the better drug benefit post deductible.

  5. Health Insurance, Doctors Visits, and Prescription Medicine | How to Save Money on April 13th, 2009 4:01 am

    [...] if you can get a discount prescription medicine program. Mrs Micah was able to get her medicine $20 less a month through [...]

  6. Pharmacy Truth on August 17th, 2009 10:30 pm

    Pretty routine advise You may also want to advise your readers that our federal government has made it illegal to import drugs from abroad
    (and yes, Canada is a foreign country). It is also illegal to “aid and abett” the illegal importation of prescription drugs. Now, where have you heard this terminology used? Be careful, as you can be prosecuted like Uncle Bin-Laden for helping Uncle Harry to be able to afford his meds. You can thank Big Pharma for Uncle Sam adopting that language.

    $4 generics is great, but the real cost of you meds is how much is in the shopping cart when you leave the store. You can bet that the big retailers are confident that you will open your wallet for at least 10 times that amount.

  7. Janae on January 25th, 2013 1:57 pm

    I use drug coupons and a drug card. I personally like the site-

  8. alexa on May 13th, 2013 5:31 pm

    I go generic whenever possible and use a prescription discount card that I found at
    I easily save over $125 a month.

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