Features June 2003 Issue

Six Ways To Save On Drug Costs

Split Pills. Ask you doctor to prescribe your pills in double strength. Then, using a plastic pill-cutter (available at any pharmacy), split them in half. Note: Some medications—time-release pills, capsules, and tablets coated to reduce stomach irritation—lose their effectiveness when split.

Buy Generics. Once a patent runs out on a well-known drug, others made of the same chemicals hit the market with a different name, at a lower price. Ask your doctor if there's a generic version of your pain medication.

Stick With The Tried And True. The newest pain medication is not always more effective than your current one, but you can be sure it will cost more. Stick with the older, cheaper drug unless your doctor believes the newer one is significantly more effective.

Consider An Alternative Drug. Arthritis pain, like most conditions, can be effectively managed by a variety of medications. Though your doctor may first suggest a drug that is widely promoted and higher priced, ask about other drugs that may be lower priced but have the same effect.

Take More Often. Generally, pills that must be taken two or three times a day are less expensive than those made to be taken only once a day. However, this will require you to be more disciplined and may not be for you if you're likely to forget to take your next dose.

Shop For Better Prices. Compare prices at online pharmacies. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy offers a list of approved online pharmacies at its website (www.nabp.com). Also, check senior discounts. Most pharmacies offer some sort of discount for seniors—but shop around, since it can vary from a flat 10 percent to as high as 60 percent for some medications.