Costco Is A Great Place For Cheap Drugs

Consumer Reports bought bought Plavix, Levoxyl, Detrol, and Alendronate at a whole bunch of different pharmacies, and Costco came out the cheapest overall. Here’s how the 13 places they tested rang up:

Costco $962
AARP.com $1005
Wal-mart $1073
Walgreens.com $1153
CVS.com $1177
Independents $1192
CVS $1205
Safeway $1207
Shopko $1209
Publix $1219
Hannafor $1226
Walgreens $1276
Rite Aid $1302

Costco sells nearly all their goods at close to cost, so their primacy is no surprise. Results may vary, but it shows you shopping around, even for drugs, makes for a healthier wallet.

America’s best drugstores [Consumer Reports]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. chiieddy says:

    This is worthless. For example, what does LEVOXYL cost at CostCo? At Target and Walmart I can get a 30 day supply for $4. In other words, unless you’re buying all those meds WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION, YMWV.

  2. ChipMcDougal says:

    I will say that Costco is actually very fairly priced in regards to pharmacy medications. When I was without health insurance, I had to spend upwards of around 25-30 dollars for a single albuterol inhaler. Compare that with Costo which was around 13-15.

  3. Nissan288 says:

    pillface is a little creepy….

  4. Ringl says:

    Unfortunately there isn’t a Costco anywhere near me.

    I can get behind some of these internet orders though.

  5. jeknee says:

    And, you don’t need to be a Costco member to shop at their pharmacy, according to the same Consumer Reports article.

  6. A few notes: You don’t need a Costco membership to use the pharmacy.

    The pharmacy doesn’t accept credit cards–debit cards are OK and, the Costco AMEX card. Therefore, if you have a defined benefit card, you will need to manually submit for reimbursement.

    Always shop arround. For some drugs, WALMART was cheaper than Costco.

  7. highmodulus says:

    Costco is the anti-Walmart! Clean, good service, employees treated well and are good at their jobs.

    A plan just crazy enough to work. . . .

  8. catnapped says:

    @chiieddy: Costco site shows between $8 and $20 for 30 days (depending on strength), so you’d probably be better off where you are.

  9. seldon452 says:

    I’m just gonna head over to Costco. Pick up a 200 pack tic-tac bag and some drugs.

  10. johnva says:

    I think the cheapest place varies hugely from drug to drug. It is definitely worth shopping around if you don’t have insurance that covers prescription drug. Don’t just assume that one place is the cheapest if you’re on an expensive drug…call them all for every prescription. Some of the chains have MASSIVE MASSIVE ripoffs for certain prescription drugs. I’ve seen a case where a month’s supply of a drug was $110 at one place and $20 at another.

  11. theblackdog says:

    Costco is also one of the cheapest places for glasses. I just bought a brand new pair of glasses that are exactly the same style of frame and lenses, and I saved $55 over what I had paid at For Eyes.

    The best part was that I did not need a coupon to accomplish this!

  12. SabrinaFaire says:

    Ooh very timely for me as I’m quitting my job at the end of the month and will still need to buy my drugs! Thanks, Consumerist!

  13. amoeba says:

    I’ve never been at Costco because the closest store is like 45 minutes from where I live. But, since I’ve been reading the consumerist, and now the medicine prices are getting high (yes, I’m getting older, and I am getting prescriptions). I will give it a try this weekend and see how “wonderful” Costco is. At least, it seems much better than Sam’s Club (which is like 10 miles from my house).

  14. bohemian says:

    Walgreens & Costco both put prices online. Target will tell you the retail price if you call or stop in.
    It is also worth your time to find out if a drug your taking has a generic version or a similar drug in generic.
    We were paying tons of money for copays on brand name drugs that we found we could get for $4.

  15. spanky says:

    Costco also has a prescription discount plan for members who don’t have prescription insurance.

    It’s free, but you have to sign up for it specifically.

  16. You can use the Costco pharmacy without being a member…might only apply to seniors though.

    Costco rocks!

  17. chiieddy says:

    @chiieddy: Ummm, I just realized. When I said “WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION” I meant “WITHOUT INSURANCE”. I don’t know where my mind was. Apparently not on what I was typing.

  18. GearheadGeek says:

    @Sir Winston Thriller: Costco accepts any Amex card, not just the Costco one. If you have the Costco Amex, you pay only one annual fee (membership + amex fee) but if you already have a different free amex plus a costco membership it’s about the same.

  19. krunk4ever says:

    According to my friend who works at a Costco pharmacy, you do NOT need to be a member of Costco to use the pharmacy. There are government regulations (not sure if it’s state specific) that require all pharmacies to be accessible by everyone.

  20. Hawk07 says:

    @highmodulus:

    I don’t know about Costco being the anti-Walmart, but Costco is the Wal-Mart Sam Walton envisioned.

    Instead, the corporation has revised their policies and procedures since his death.

  21. Hawk07 says:

    @amoeba:

    With gas the way it is, you might end up paying more for Costco stuff.

    However, generally Costco has better prices on like items, a cleaner store, and much higher quality products than Sam’s Club has. In my area, we have 2 Costco’s and maybe 6/7 Sam’s so of course they compete heavily with each other.

  22. gtabacchi says:

    I need to get test strips and pills for my diabetes, and Costco gives me a much better price by letting me buy in bulk. My Dr. would write me a prescription for 100 strips and WalGreens would only give them to me 25 at a time, for a $10 copay each time, Costco gives me 100 strips for the same $10.

    Additionally the people working their have always been very helpful filling my prescriptions and following up with my doctor if there are any questions. Absolutely brilliant.

  23. Phipps6505 says:

    We don’t have a Costco in our area, but have been using Sam’s Club for our prescriptions lately. One thing I’ve noticed – the pharmacy is much less busy than the WalMart next door. And the service is great. If Costco’s is the same, you’d be foolish not to use their pharmacy.

  24. ShadowFalls says:

    What about Sam’s Club? was it the same as Walmart’s? It would be important to make sure of that fact if you including Costco in the bunch.

  25. Rachael says:

    Costco was even cheaper for the birth control I’m on- not by a HUGE margin, but by enough to make it worth my while. Walgreen’s was something like $70 all told, Costco would be $60 all told.

    It’s shocking to see Walgreen’s fare so low. Even CVS beats it? WOW.

  26. pixiegirl1 says:

    You do not need a membership to shop at the pharmacy at any Costco(at least in the US I’m not sure about other countries).

    You also don’t need a membership to have a eye exam at the optical, or buy alcohol.

    They will take any AMEX you do not need to have the Costco branded AMEX, cash, atm/debit. However they will not take a check from a non-member which I feel is important to note.

  27. nardo218 says:

    Just be careful if you go cheap for your drugs (as I do). If you want cheap, you’re sacrificing service, so don’t expect the pharm to be open 24/7, or during reasonable business hours, or there to be an on-call pharmacist, or the pharm to go to any extreme measures to make sure you don’t die.

    If you’re taking life-necessary meds, consider these steps to protect yourself:
    – Keep your refill schedule marked on a calendar.
    – Keep a note of the pharmacy’s hours posted next to that.
    – Order refills when you still have one week’s meds left.
    – Allow two weeks’ meds if your doctor needs to call in a new scrip.
    – Don’t put off picking up meds until the last minute!
    – If you run out of something and the Costco or Walmart pharmacy is closed, or they refuse to help you, go to a chain pharm and beg for just enough dosages to tide you over. This works especially well if you do order meds from that chain pharm.
    -Alternatly, get better health insurance.

  28. @jeknee: I believe it’s actually against the law to require membership to shop at a pharmacy; all “club” stores have “open” pharmacies.

  29. pizza_perogies says:

    It amazes me that people will go to these big box stores to save some dollars when they don’t realize the value of having a regular pharmacist who can actually speak to them for more than 25 secs. Pharmacists who work at the Costcos and Walmarts fill upwards of 250-300 prescriptions a day in my area, and so they have limited (if any) time for patient care. Compare that to a pharmacy I used to work at where the fee was 4 bucks above average but you actually got 24/7 access to a pharmacist via pager. People would actually fill there Rx’s at the Walmart and then call us for the counseling part, because, surprise surprise, they had no idea what they were taking. Thats what cheap dispensing gets you, and in the end, thats exactly what you paid for.

  30. highmodulus says:

    @Hawk07: Walton was always about low-balling the employees (ardent union buster to boot) and cutting costs over service and customer happiness.

    I do agree that the policies have been revised, but they follow the direction and ideals there at the start.

    Happy customers or employees are not objectives- hitting growth numbers through low quality/low price and old school customer manipulation are.

    As a stock, I would invest in them at the right price. As a store, I would never use them. Lower prices can be found on the net, better service everywhere else.

    Costco does make customer and employee satisfaction a key metric, doesn’t use low quality Walmart only versions of products (without proper disclosure either), and do have a long positive track record. But alas, the closest Costco is still too far away. Sigh.

  31. it’s much cheaper getting them from the local street pharmacist.

  32. ridbaxter says:

    While I love Costco, I suggest calling their pharmacy ahead of time to check if they carry your medication as part of their regular stock. I’ve had a few occasions where I took a new script to Costco and had to wait for over a week for it to be filled while they had the order shipped in. While the wait wasn’t a big deal for my particular needs it meant multiple trips out to the warehouse and a long delay in starting treatment. By comparison, my local drugstore pharmacy was able to fill both Rx’s within a few hours.