Making your prescription dollars go further

Prescription drugs costs keep going up. Being an informed health care consumer can help you save money. Here are several tips that may help you lower your prescription medication costs. Discuss these options with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure they are right for you.

Tip 1: Consider over-the-counter drugs

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are available to you without a prescription. These drugs are effective in treating many common ailments. Many prescription drugs, over time, become available as OTC drugs. Examples include: loratadine (Alavert™, Claritin®, others) for allergies and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) for acid suppression. OTC drugs are usually less expensive than your cost for an equivalent prescription drug. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about OTC alternatives to treat your condition.

Tip 2: Ask for a generic drug

Generic drugs are an easy way to lower your prescription costs. When a brand-name drug patent expires, other companies can make and sell the same drug as a generic. A generic drug has the same active ingredient as the brand-name version and there are now generic options to treat most common ailments. Learn more about how to save with generics.

Tip 3: Drug ads can lead you down an expensive path

Do not be sold by advertisements promoting expensive brand name drugs. Since brand-name drugs make the most money for drug companies, they are often advertised and available as free drug samples. Brand-name drugs may not necessarily be any better than other, less expensive drugs. In fact, the FDA rated only 11 of the 78 new drugs approved last year as offering significant improvement in the treatment of disease. Talk to your doctor about the best effective and affordable drug therapy to treat your condition.

Tip 4: Half-tablets

Many tablets cost the same regardless of strength. Some, but not all, tablets can be safely split. Using one-half of the next higher-strength tablet can cut the cost in half. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your medications can be safely split and allow you to save money.