Ask The Consumerists: Should Everyone Take Advantage Of $4 Generics?

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Back in April, reader B. e-mailed the Consumerist tipline about a change to his health insurance plan’s prescription drug schedule. It raised a drug that he’s taken for years, the generic version of Prozac, to a different schedule—more than tripling B.’s co-pay, from $8 to $25.

He wrote, in part:

I don’t know how many people are affected by this, but I bet quite a few. I’m certainly annoyed by it. I’ve been taking Prozac for years. I remember how nice it was the day it went generic (fluoxetine hcl) and my prescription drug insurance cost went way down. It’s been generic for a long time now.

United Health Care has a three tiered prescription drug program. Tier 1 for generics (the cheapest, was $8 now $10 for 30 days supply), Tier 2 for name brand ($25) and Tier 3 for optional stuff like Viagra ($40). That was how it used to be defined anyway. Now it seems they can put any drug in any tier they want. As of last August my generic Prozac went from Tier 1 to Tier 2. I asked them why and they just said that sometimes drugs change tiers.

As many people take this, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of a backlash. I used to have 2 generic Tier1 prescriptions and one name brand Tier 2 (Lipitor), for a total of $41 per month. (8+8+25). Now I have two Tier 2 and one Tier 1 for a total of $60 per month (10+25+25).

It just makes me mad that they are so greedy.

We don’t normally have time to answer every question on the tipline, but I had some extra time that day. So I wrote B. back, telling him about the $4 generics program at Wal-Mart, Target, and some other stores. I remembered seeing fluoxetine on the list, and behold, there it was. I advised him to fill his prescription at Wal-Mart without using his insurance card.

A few weeks later, he wrote back:

I just want to thank you for your reply. I was not aware of the deals available at Wal-Mart on fluoxetine and triamterene/HCTZ, both of which I use. Now, instead of paying $33.99/month for these two items thru my United Health Care prescription drug plan, I can pay $20 every 3 months by not using any insurance at all! It turns out that even though the fluoxetine is a $25 Tier 2 UHC drug, Walgreens “only charges $23.99 for it because that’s how much they sell it for”. So they save me $1.01 and think I should thank them.

I’ve been thinking about it since, though. It’s been a few years since I’ve filled a prescription with an insurance card. I remember Target charging me just the $4 generic cost instead of my $10 co-pay, I wasn’t sure whether Wal-Mart and other stores had this policy, and even whether it was still done that way, so I advised him not to use his insurance.

Have you switched to a store that carries $4 generics since stores started this policy?

Have you taken advantage of low-price generics?(polls)

(Photo: jm3)

Comments

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  1. Skankingmike says:

    what sorta regulations are built in for a 4 dollar drug?

    • polyeaster says:

      @Skankingmike: same drug at a lower cost. really nothing changes except insurance cant rip you off.

      • sleze69 says:

        @polyeaster: One thing to remember tho, is that the quality control of the generic companies is WAY lower than at large pharmaceuticals that made the original. That means a 20mg pill of drug X as generic may have 17-23ish mgs where the name brand will have within 0.01% of the intended dosage.

        For most drugs, it’s not a big deal but there will be a few that it is important (anti-psychotic drugs for example). I know this because it was beaten into me by my parents who worked for pharmaceutical companies.

        Of course it doesn’t stop me from buying generics…

        • OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave says:

          @sleze69: What do the relavent FDA regulations state? I would guess that they require the same testing/procedures as any other drug company.

        • KStrike155 says:

          @sleze69: “It was beaten into my by my parents who worked for pharmaceutical companies.

          Do you think that this myth might have been drilled into their heads by the companies themselves?

          According to FDA regulations, the drugs must contain the exact same amount of active ingredient, and must work in exactly the same way as the name brand drugs.


          FDA Requirements for Generic Drugs

          * Generic drugs must have the same active ingredients and the same labeled strength as the brand-name product.
          * Generic drugs must have the same dosage form (for example, tablets, liquids) and must be administered in the same way.
          * Generic drug manufacturers must show that a generic drug is bioequivalent to the brand-name drug, which means the generic version delivers the same amount of active ingredients into a patient’s bloodstream in the same amount of time as the brand-name drug.
          * Generic drug labeling must be essentially the same as the labeling of the brand-name drug.
          * Generic drug manufacturers must fully document the generic drug’s chemistry, manufacturing steps, and quality control measures.
          * Firms must assure the FDA that the raw materials and finished product meet specifications of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, the organization that sets standards for drug purity in the United States.
          * Firms must show that a generic drug will remain potent and unchanged until the expiration date on the label.
          * Firms must comply with federal regulations for good manufacturing practices and provide the FDA a full description of facilities they use to manufacture, process, test, package, and label the drug. The FDA inspects manufacturing facilities to ensure compliance.

          [www.fda.gov]
          [www.fda.gov]
          [www.montefiore.org]
          [www.medicinenet.com]

          The assumption that generics are in ANY way inferior to the name brand drugs is a myth.

        • ekzachtly says:

          @sleze69: @KStrike155: THANK YOU! I work in a pharmacy, and all the time, I deal with customers who insist that the brand name drug is somehow far superior to the generic, or have their doctor prescribe the brand name when there is a cheaper generic available. It’s not like the FDA oversees brand names and the Chinese government oversees generics or something.

          • OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave says:

            @ekzachtly: Have you heard anything about the generic Wellbutrin XL? When I was prescribed that at first, my Dr. informed me that it uses a proprietary delivery vessel(the pill’s “skin”), and to not be surprised if i saw the “husk” floating in my Colbert. I have heard from more than one person that the new generic isn’t as effective as the brand name.

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave: I take the generic, I’ve had no problem. And had no problem making the switch, it was all exactly the same for me.

              I’m sure some people just don’t react well to the inert binders or whatever. Similarly, one brand of calcium supplement doesn’t give me any side effects; another brand with exactly the same active ingredients makes me lose my sense of taste and, um, speeds up the plumbing considerably. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with the second brand, which I believe is the national leader; it’s just a formulation that doesn’t suit me.

              With prenatal vitamins, there are dozens and dozens of formulations out there that are basically the same, because nausea’s such an issue in pregnancy and many women have to try several formulations before they find one that doesn’t make them sick. (I got lucky, the generic Walgreens knockoff of Stuart Prenatal, $9.99 for 100 doses, worked perfectly for me. A more expensive Rx one turned me inside out with vomiting.)

        • LSonnenhimmer says:

          @sleze69:
          That is simply not true. FDA requires the generic to be exactly the same as the original. The only exception is thyroid medication, no one is sure yet exactly why there is a difference, even when the efficacy should be the same.

          • HogwartsAlum says:

            @LSonnenhimmer:

            I take the generic thyroid meds, and they work just fine. I took Synthroid for a while and there was no difference in how I felt. My pharmacy is at Dillons grocery and they only charge $4 for it. Alas, my BC pills aren’t as cheap, even with insurance. But I can get both my meds for under $20 a month, so it helps me greatly. Especially since it’s time to start paying off the student loans (GROAN!)

            • AliyaBabasaur says:

              @HogwartsAlum: Apparently there’s a difference when using dessicated thyroid, not synthetics. My doctor said he always prescribes the generic, except for dessicated thyroid. he specifies Armour by name on my prescription.

          • Kaessa says:

            @LSonnenhimmer: @FreeShaggy: I’d love it if “go take some damn Tylenol” worked for me. Just because I don’t have my arm in a sling doesn’t mean I’m not in a whole hell of a lot of pain.

            I smile at you because it’s the polite thing to do. If I’m in the store picking up my prescription, it’s because I’ve taken a painkiller so I can leave the house.

            Don’t be so judgemental.

        • Trulymadlyme says:

          @sleze69: One thing to remember tho, is that the quality control of the generic companies is WAY lower than at large pharmaceuticals that made the original. That means a 20mg pill of drug X as generic may have 17-23ish mgs where the name brand will have within 0.01% of the intended dosage.

          That’s absolutely not true. Holy hell. Generic drugs are governed by the same manufacturing and compliance standards as other companies. And generic drugs need to be bioequivalent, which means it must have the same amount of active ingredient in a patient’s blood plasma. While inactive ingredients may make things wonky (particularly in the birth control context where a woman’s reaction to the hormones varies), it might make a difference. But then again, a woman might tolerate a generic better than a brand.

          Long to short, your parents weren’t telling the truth or at the very least misrepresented the reality of generic drugs.

          • Skankingmike says:

            @Trulymadlyme: are not generics made in countries of such reputable places like China? They make quality stuff there!

            seriously though is it an American company in America making the drugs or some Chinese manufacturing plant.

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @Skankingmike: Often the same plants as the name-brand:

              “Both brand-name and generic drug facilities must meet the same standards of good manufacturing practices. FDA won’t permit drugs to be made in substandard facilities. FDA conducts about 3,500 inspections a year to ensure standards are met. Generic firms have facilities comparable to those of brand-name firms. In fact, brand-name firms are linked to an estimated 50 percent of generic drug production. They frequently make copies of their own or other brand-name drugs but sell them without the brand name.”

              [www.fda.gov]

              • Skankingmike says:

                @Eyebrows McGee (popping ~May 29): Listen the Peanut factory has to meet the same standard too but we got Salmonella in that.

                Now we have Chinese dry wall, lead paint and god knows what else coming from china.

                I personally use Generic (if i actually get sick). I haven’t’ had antibiotics in years though.

                I think a better article would be why we need to stop over medicating ourselves over everything.

                Sometimes just a nice tea, lemon, honey, and baking soda will fix most things we want to pop into our mouths.

          • ryatziv says:

            @Trulymadlyme:
            [counsellingresource.com]
            “…it should be noted that current regulations permit a variation of approximately 20% either way in the bioavailability of the active ingredient. “

            • KStrike155 says:

              @ryatziv: Wrong. Did you read any of the referenced documents, or do any other research? This may have been true pre-1984, but not now. The last generation has just carried the myth over.

              LONG VERSION:
              “The statistical method for the average bioequivalence assessment is … analyzed using a complex statistical model that allows evaluation of the least squares means of the bioavailability parameters and their standard errors. These results are then used to construct the 90% CI for the differences in parameter means. A 90% CI is used, since a 5% statistical error is allowed at both the upper and the lower limits; therefore, the total error is 10%, generating the 90% CI. … In 1992, the FDA issued a guidance in which the use of log-transformed data and an upper limit of 125% were adopted. These criteria [80-125%] remain the current rule for bioequivalence decisions. …
              The determination of average bioequivalence is made by calculating the 90% confidence interval (CI) for the difference between generic and reference products and by requiring that the entire CI lie completely within the lower and upper limits which define bioequivalence. Currently, these limits are 80-125% of the reference product mean value using data after logarithmic transformation.” Using these statistical criteria, it is difficult for any generic product whose mean arithmetic bioavailability parameters differ by more than 10% from the reference to meet the CI requirements, and it is virtually impossible to meet the CI requirements if the differences approach 20%. “A generic product that truly differs by -20%/+25% or more from the innovator product with respect to one or more pharmacokinetic parameters would actually have less than a 5% chance of being approved.”

              And, most importantly: “An FDA study showed that the mean difference for AUC values between test and reference products was 3.5% in the 2-year period following the Waxman-Hatch Act, and that 80% of the absolute differences between generic products approved since 1984 and the corresponding innovator products were within 5%.

              This is all within the range of error even between two pills from the same batch for a name-brand supplier.
              [www.medscape.com]

              SHORT VERSION:
              “The 20% to 25% margin is one part of a complex statistical calculation used to help measure the bioequivalence. In no way does it represent the actual difference in the amount of active ingredient a patient’s bloodstream, which FDA has determined is typically less than 4% between generic and brand or between two different batches of a brand drug.”
              [www.gphaonline.org]

        • babyruthless says:

          @sleze69: As has been mentioned 1000 times, there is no chemical difference between the drugs (with the exception of the inert binders)

          But there has been a study suggesting that people respond better to drugs when they think that they are expensive. Call it a pocketbook placebo effect. [abcnews.go.com]

        • Serpephone says:

          @sleze69:

          That’s not always true. The generic drug I take is actually manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company that makes the full-price drug. Same quality control. Cheaper price.

          (PANTOPRAZOLE)

    • unpolloloco says:

      @Skankingmike: nothing since those drugs are loss leaders for Walmart – they draw you in with them so you buy more stuff elsewhere in the store.

  2. BytheSea says:

    Any decent pharmacy will charge you the lesser of the costs. They dont’ want to go through insurance if they don’t have to, either.

    • Alessar says:

      @BytheSea: This is true. I had some generic that was $6.39 instead of my $10 copay at a grocery store pharmacy one time.

    • DrPharmacist says:

      @BytheSea: Pharmacies are required by law to charge insurance companies the same as they charge patients. This is called the, “Usual and Customary” price. Even if you run the prescription through insurance at walmart it will still only cost you $4. I’d advise you to run all prescriptions through insurance even if they are less than your copay because then they will be applied to a deductible if you have one. Also while these $4 plans will save you money, be sure not to use multiple pharmacies to get the best deals and split up your drug order. This makes it very difficult for the pharmacist to recognize drug interactions and is unsafe. -Pharmacist

    • Julia789 says:

      @BytheSea: True! My Rx for pre-natal vitamins was a $25 co-pay through insurance, but $17 if I just bought it without insurance. The pharmacist said “just don’t put it through insurance, and you can save a few dollars.” I would have never known the actual value had she not pointed it out to me. They don’t often give you the value. A good pharmacist will do that.

    • Michael A. B. says:

      @BytheSea: That is not how a copayment works. Even if you do go through your insurance, you pay the lesser of the copayment or the cost of the drug.

      With some of the plans out there, not using the insurance can actually be a detriment. Some plans allow the drug copayment to apply to your out of pocket maximum. This means by not filing with insurance, you are potentially paying MORE every year for your medical treatment. There is no situation that I am aware of that would actually be a negative to filing the claim with your insurance. Also, if you get your generics at Wal-Mart or Target for the $4 cost, your insurance will be just as happy to make a payment of $0.00 to them or to Walgreens.

      Also, a very large amount of insurance plans are actually funded out of the employer’s money, so insurance actually has no financial stake directly in what is paid. Even in cases where the insurance companies do pay the claims with their own money, the employer still selects what plans to offer their employees. If they want to have a plan with no copayments at all, they can, it just costs more money.

  3. mini schnauzer says:

    4..
    4 dollar..
    4 dollar pillz
    ..
    at walmart

    • Lucky225 says:

      I have to say, the $4 prescription policy is quite a life saver. Also there are a number of prescription saving cards you can find on the internet, some don’t even require any information about you whatsoever, not even your name, such as http://www.yourrxcard.com, which I’ve never used or endorse, but just throwing it out there for anyone who wants to do comparisons with the rx savings cards that are online.

      I personally use the card from http://www.togetherrxaccess.com, the TOS on it says you can’t have health insurance, but I’ve used it tons of places, as long as the pharmacy doesn’t know you have insurance, you’re good to go, half the time they’re cheapter then you’re insurance with the savings card.

  4. maztec says:

    Of course it doesn’t make you mad … you’re on Prozac, heh.

  5. s25843 says:

    I switched my scripts from CVS to Target just for this. Target always charges me the lower price generic price (example, Tramadol, at CVS it was $10 under my copay, at Target its $4)

    However the weird part is, Target still reports the $4 fills to my insurance company (Harvard Pilgrim). I know this, because, a couple days after a new prescriptiion, I can go online through Harvard Pilgrim and see it listed there.

    I wonder why they do this?

    • Daisuke Matsuzaka says:

      @s25843: @s25843…I also have Harvard Pilgrim. It sounds like Target gives you the real deal, but charges a generic price…this correct?

      I recently (6 weeks ago) had an organ transplant, and I have no wish to mess with generic drugs, but if Target will give me the real thing but only charge generic price, I’d be interested to see how much my cost would go down for some of the spicy drugs I’m taking.

      • s25843 says:

        @Daisuke Matsuzaka:

        No, Target gives me generics, but the difference is, CVS charges $10 for generics, and Target charges $4

        I injured my knee a few months ago, so I’ve been on Vicodin and Ultram generics so I can walk, and from what I can tell, the generics are the same or better at Target than what CVS dispenses.

        Remember, the FDA has guidelines on what can and can’t be dispensed. For the most part, I fully trust a generic drug….

        • Anonymous says:

          @s25843:
          About 5% of all drugs present a problem for generic drug manufacturers. These drugs have a narrow therapeutic index (that is, the drug’s toxic dose is not much higher than it’s effective dose).

          examples include: digitalis, anticoagulants, thyroid medications, theophylline, antineoplastic (anticancer) drugs, anticonvulsant (anti-epilepsy) drugs, and some extended release dose forms.

          Even in these cases, the generic equivalents rarely pose a risk to a patient. As always, consult your pharmacist if you have a question about a medication.

        • Coles_Law says:

          @s25843: It’s possible they report it so it will count towards people’s deductible. Granted, $4 isn’t much, but every little bit helps.

      • mommakaren says:

        @Daisuke Matsuzaka: Most transplant drugs are not available as generics. My husband had his transplant over a year ago and had it not been for insurance there is no way we could pay for these high dollar drugs. One anti rejection med cost $987. for a 30 day supply and he started out on 17 different prescriptions a day. Generics are only available if approved by the transplant doctors. And those are few and far between. As far as getting the brand name for the generic price—well, good luck with that one!!!!

    • j-o-h-n says:

      @s25843: That way they get the $4 they charge you *plus* whatever the insurance company will reimburse them for.

    • CRNewsom says:

      @s25843: This could be helpful to you if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). The $4 goes towards your deductible as opposed to you just eating the cost of it. The wife does this with her prescriptions (~$50/month) and it’s totally worth it.

      /Maybe they’re just trying to help.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @s25843: Personally, mine reports regardless because my health care Flex Spending Account is run through my insurance. I can make separate claims, but that’s a hassle. I even try to buy my Tylenol when I’m filling an Rx at the pharmacy counter because as long as an Rx is being reported to insurance, everything on my receipt that’s FSA-eligible is automatically reported and reimbursed.

      (“You sprained your ankle, honey? Can you wait until next week when I fill my prescription to get an Ace bandage for that so it’ll go through to the FSA? No?”)

    • J_Sensei says:

      @s25843:

      There are several reasons they do this. For starters, insurance companies will only pay one time per 30 days for prescriptions, so it’s always sent to insurance companies for that purpose. Otherwise people will be able to pharmacy hop and have their insurance cover many refills in a short time period.

      Another reason has to do with controlled substances. A schedule VI (non control) prescription is valid for one year after the date it is written. Controls work differently. Your script is still valid for a year, but once you fill it, you have six months, the end of the year it was written for, or five refills, whichever is shorter.

      As for why they can sell it for four dollars, here’s a little known fact. The pharmacy is still making a profit. Generics cost the actual pharmacy very little to purchase, so whether we’re charging you four, ten, or your copay, we still make a profit.

      You also have some drugs that are sold both OTC and by prescription. Consider Omeprazole, better known as prilosec. The 20 mg extended release capsule is sold over the counter and behind the counter. 28 CVS brand caps will cost you 17 dollars. 28 capsules made by a generic manufacturer (like Watson, for instance) is 56. You pay a 10-dollar copay, and the pharmacy pockets the extra 39 dollars for the exact same medication.

  6. Dafrety says:

    I don’t really have much to say on this matter, but shouldn’t the poll be radio buttons?

  7. Shoelace says:

    The generics that aren’t covered under the $4 umbrella can cost an arm and a leg. Less than 6 months ago the best price I could get for Augmentin generic was about $30 for 20 pills, up from several years ago. If you’re not allergic and need a med on the $4 list that’s great. Otherwise, they can really stick it to you.

    I’ve also run into the tiering problem. I take a med, not optional, that has no generic and there’s no similar drug. The insurance charged me the brand copay; for people who choose the brand when there’s a generic available. I explained that I have no choice, and they read me back some bullshit about how many different factors are considered when deciding what tier to put a drug in. Nothing changed, of course.

    I wish they’d all go to hell.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Shoelace: check with the drug manufacturer to see if they have a copay assistance program

    • harlock_JDS says:

      @Shoelace:

      well you could pay the full price for the pill instead.

      Most of my meds would cost 2-4 hundred bucks without insurance so i don’t mind paying 20. …

    • BEERxTaco says:

      @Shoelace: “they read me back some bullshit about how many different factors are considered when deciding what tier to put a drug in. Nothing changed, of course.

      I wish they’d all go to hell.”

      That’s exactly what they told me.

  8. simplekismet says:

    I know some pharmacists who will go ahead and bill your insurance but then only charge you $4 regardless of your copay (even if your copay is, say, $25). They’re willing to eat this $21 difference because they will get paid by your insurance company for the claim (whereas when they just charge you $4 and don’t bill your insurance, they lose a lot more than $21). So it’s worth it to ask if they’ll cut your copay to $4 even if you have them bill the insurance.

    As a person who works in a pharmacy, I pretty much hate the $4 generic thing because these drugs really do cost more than $4 and it’s killing pharmacies that don’t have strong front end stores to support them. I do like that they’re available to people who need drugs and can’t afford them, but I almost wish it could truly just be for people who can’t afford them. But if I have to pick all or nothing, I pick all, and I’m happy to see people getting and taking the drugs they need.

    • BytheSea says:

      @simplekismet: I really do feel for small pharmacies who are getting killed by these $4 drugs. But on the other hand, I can’t afford $20/mo at Adam’s Discount Pharmacy when I can pay $8 for three months at walmart. I hate supporting walmart, but I take comfort that it’s a LOSS leader (and I pay credit so they have to pay those processing fees).

      It’s a broken system. If I could afford to support the little guys I would. Maybe someday when I have prescription coverage.

  9. sam1am says:

    I once paid a $25 copay for a medication only to find out later than the price of the medication was only $18. Seems like someone would have told me about that at the time…

  10. calchip says:

    I am lucky enough to not be on any regular prescription drugs. However, about a year ago, I had a dental surgery procedure and required a prescription for it (Vicodin and Penicillin-G)

    I was paying cash for the prescriptions, and the local Walgreens wanted $27 for 16 Vicodin generics and $21 for Penicillin-G.

    Now… Vicodin is basically Tylenol with a tiny bit of codiene, so wholesale is something like $15 per hundred tablets. Penicillin-G is probably one of the oldest prescription drugs, and you can buy it over the counter in a pet store for something like $3.

    So I bitched. They offered to lower the prices by $5, and I said that wasn’t sufficient, so I called Wal-mart, and sure enough, both were available for $4. So Walgreens matched the $4 price… but they’ve lost my business, because if they were willing to rip me off $48 for prescriptions worth $8 (that are profitable at the $8 price), then it’s not somebody I want’ to do business with. It just galls me when companies are gouging people on health care.

    Years ago, drugstores sold generics at reasonable prices. Costs of producing generics have not gone up dramatically, so there’s no reason for a generic that cost $5 10 years ago to cost $30 now; maybe $10. But the stores have all gotten greedy.

    Thank goodness for companies like Walmart and Target who are pricing drugs that people need at a price people can afford.

    • enthreeoh says:

      @calchip: selling an item for more than cost doesn’t make it profitable. selling at item so that it returns a certain percent, enough to pay operating costs and still make a profit, is profitable.

    • thelushie says:

      @calchip: Isn’t vicodin Schedule 3 which should not be on the $4 list? Hell, if that is the case, put Lorazepam on the list. I take it and pay for it out of pocket. (And yes, I really do need it.)

  11. pika2000 says:

    How ironic. People are bitching how crappy Walmart is, and yet everybody is lining up at Walmart. Take a look around, and count how many independent pharmacies left. Say goodbye to them as you keep supporting companies like Walmart. Most, if not all retail pharmacies, especially the ones in grocery stores, are loosing money. Independent pharmacies are going away. Heck, even Rite Aid is not doing so hot either. Next thing you know, you’ll be at the mercy of only a few big chain pharmacies like Walgreens or Walmart. Obviously people doesn’t care as long as they can save a buck or 2. So, next time I see people whining about Walmart’s customer service, well, you deserve it.

    Just because cost of a generic medication is cheap, doesn’t negate the cost of running a business. More and more pharmacies are cutting hours of their own staff to remain in business, increasing the risk of medication errors due to poor staffing. But hey, as long as you can save a buck or 2, who cares right?

    • Synth3t1c says:

      @pika2000: Wow, you’re a dolt.
      Especially in today’s economy, people need to save money. Now, I’m all for supporting local businesses, but when it comes to saving anywhere from the OP’s $160 every three months to saving thousands for some unlucky, unhealthy people every year it simply doesn’t make sense to support a local shop that can’t offer anything close.

      Not all of us are as well-to-do as you seem to be. Go burn your Benjamins somewhere else.

      • harlock_JDS says:

        @Synth3t1c:

        It’s fine if you go and get the cheep drugs from wal-mart but don’t then turn around and bitch about how they manipulate employee hours so they don’t have to provide benefits or don’t hire security and cause deaths on black Friday.

        They pass those savings along to you :)

        • bibliophibian says:

          I used to use a mom-and-pop pharmacy.

          I was halfway through typing out the story when I got hit with deja vu – turns out I DID tell that story once already, here:
          [consumerist.com]

          Long story short: I thought the guy was great; the FBI had a slightly different opinion. Apparently “cheat insurance; sell meth supplies; profit!!” is not an acceptable business plan in their eyes.

          I was loyal to him, thrilled with his service (even without the above-and-beyond in the comment linked above), and would gladly have continued using him until forever, but when he got shut down, I found myself really up a creek. I had to go get new prescriptions (= doctor visit = $$) for prescriptions that I *had* refills on, because there was no way to verify that I did have refills available. I was out of two medications for a couple of weeks because I couldn’t get appointments in time.

          The last I heard, they were trying to make his records accessible to other pharmacies for refill purposes but did not expect them to be available until mid-June.

          I support small businesses wherever I can, but – as unhappy as I am in general with my pharmacy options and their six-or-more-hour fill times, 20-minute checkout lines, surly clerks, and supercilious pharmacists – I will probably be using chain pharmacists exclusively in the future. It seems to me that type of abuse is less likely to occur in a chain-store setting, and if it does, at least Walgreens #1234 will be able to access my records and give me my refills even if Walgreens #6789 got busted and shut down by the feds.

      • pika2000 says:

        @Synth3t1c: Obviously you’re the dolt one, only seeing things in your own selfish $$$ point of view. People like you are the reason we don’t really see anymore real customer service.
        Yeah, go ahead support companies like Walmart despite their obvious bad business practices. Wait till you only have them operating in your area. It’s already happening anyway. I will no longer sympathize anybody that whine about Walmart’s customer service. You deserve them.

    • unpolloloco says:

      @pika2000: So, I’m supposed to support crappy business plans why? Anyway, are there local pharmacies anymore?

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @unpolloloco: I live near an independent compounding pharmacy, which we’ve been patronizing for quite a while because they compound veterinary prescriptions as well as people prescriptions (which is SUCH a convenience, being able to get unusual vet Rxes locally and in your preferred form instead of having to have them shipped from somewhere).

        A couple years ago they disassociated from the hospital and became stand-alone. To keep their profit margins up, now that they’re not doing hospital Rxes as well as walk-in Rxes, they’ve started carrying tons and tons and tons and tons of shady-ass “supplements” — for weight-loss, for “colon health,” all kinds of nonsense and snake-oil that shows up on Consumerist.

        I still go there when I need something compounded, but shopping there makes me really uncomfortable now. What kind of pharmacist, exactly, am I patronizing who either can’t tell the supplements are snake-oil, or who thinks it’s okay to sell that to people?

        (A propos of bad business plans.)

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @unpolloloco: There’s one across the street from where I work. I used to get my medications from there.

        Then one day I lost my wallet. The bank was closed and I didn’t have any cash so I had to write a check. They insisted on writing down a bunch of additional personal information on the check. Now I get my meds through the mail. (My insurance wants me doing that anyway.)

        • secret_curse says:

          @Rectilinear Propagation: You realize all the extra personal information they wrote on your check was required by their check cashing vendor, right? It’s not like they kept it in some hidden vault where they’re hoarding customer information to sell once the communists take over. Lose the tinfoil hat, man…

      • pika2000 says:

        @unpolloloco: Crappy business plan? Yeah, try running a business and selling you products under cost. Pharmacy as a business is a lost proposition. Walmart can crush their smaller competitors because they can cut everybody. But hey, if you rather support companies like that, go ahead. Just look in the mirror next time you see a complaint about Walmart.

    • Meathamper says:

      @pika2000: This isn’t “saving a buck or two”, this is saving you six (and a bit) bucks each month provided you pay the $20/three months! Local pharmacies are great, but sometimes you need the cash, especially in the recession.

    • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

      @pika2000: I live in a major metropolitan area. There are only 2 independent pharmacies in my area, they are each about 8 miles from my home. They are not on my “approved” list from my insurance company, so using them I’d get little to no coverage. Meanwhile, there are multiple chain pharmacies within 2 miles, all “approved” and even a couple within walking distance. Tell me, where would you go?

      • pika2000 says:

        @Ihaveasmartpuppy: Well, you already see the pattern there. Wait till you only see only 1 or 2 pharmacies left. Like I already said, even chains like Rite Aid is not doing so great. In the end, it’s probably either a Walmart, or you have to do mail-order for your prescriptions. You want customer service? Good luck.

        • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

          @pika2000: Hey, I never said I get my stuff at Walmart. I don’t shop there. My prescriptions are usually filled at CVS or Target, depending on the urgency. And for the record, I’ve received great service at both of the places.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @pika2000: Paying the money at Wal-Mart (or the dozens of other places that have the same pricing policy) will encourage the others to fall into line and charge what the market will bear. It’s not my duty to salve your social conscience with my money, friend.

    • c_c says:

      @pika2000: Dude this is about saving hundreds a year. My wife had a prescription that would’ve been $65/mo on insurance. She got her doctor to write the script so the dosage matched up with what was offered for $4 at Target, basically she just had to buy 2 $4 bottles for a month. Independent pharmacies are great and all, but I bet even the most stringent locavore would switch to save $600+ a year.

      And this is coming from a person who avoids Walmart at all costs, and is a member of a local farm CSA.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @pika2000:

      I’m actually less likely to go to Walmart because I went there once for the $4 price on a painkiller prescription, and it took me THREE HOURS to get my medication. The pharmacy techs seemed overwhelmed and disorganized, and acted as if they couldn’t care less. It did not inspire confidence in me.

      Whereas at my pharmacy in the Dillons store, I can walk in, ask for my meds, shop for about ten or fifteen minutes and walk out. They are fast, professional and so far, accurate.

      I always check the medicine before I leave, though, because one time at a different pharmacy I used to go to, they made a mistake that could have killed me. They were horrified and fixed it immediately. Mistakes do happen even at the best places.

      • BytheSea says:

        @HogwartsAlum: You do get what yo pay for in terms of service. I never wait for my scrip at walmart, I always drop it off and come back in a few days, and I always order my refills well in advance. Even my local CVS knows me and has helped me out in cases of medication emergency, but I wouldn’t expect walmart to do anything other than dispense my drugs.

    • mmmsoap says:

      @pika2000: I agree.

      Luckily, I’m not in a position where I need to take regular, expensive, medication, which clearly helps. But I’ve made the decision to not patronize Walmart for social reasons (I don’t want to give my business to a company that treats their employees that way) and because a lot of the crap they sell is, well, crap.

      When the time comes up that I do need to fill the occasional prescription, I take my business to a local independent pharmacy, just because they’re convenient. In college I used an Osco Drug or the local RiteAid.

      Granted, if my finances get to the point that getting a $4 prescription means the difference between eating and not, rather than the difference between pay-per-view and not, then I’ll probably re-evaluate. But I’m not in that position now.

      • thelushie says:

        @mmmsoap: Good for you but there are many many people in this country who are. And the same crap that is sold at Walmart is also sold at Target, Walgreens, Rite-aid, and your local independently owned pharmacy.

        I got my perscription filled at a local independent pharmacy once. The techs were messing around in the back and when I asked for the manager, I was told he was on vacation but they went to get his brother. On my way out, the one of the girls gave me an ugly look.

        The other experience I had with an independent pharmacy was worse. The pharmacist/owner was chasing on the techs around with his cell phone camera. The guy who was filling my mom’s perscription wasn’t sure if he had to pour the liquid into a seperate bottle and had a hard time getting the pharmacist’s attention. When I asked to speak with the manager, the pharamist looked up and said “What? I am the manager.”

  12. mkn1972 says:

    Something you might want to think about: Using your insurance WITH the $4 generics… Since the price of the drug is less than the copay some insurance providers may cover the whole cost and you’d get it for free. I’m an asthmatic who takes several drugs for my illness and without my insurance and Wal-Mart’s $4 generics, I’d have gone broke years ago. Using my insurance (United Healthcare) I pay nothing for the $4 generics unless I get the 90-day supply. Might want to call your insurance and find out?

    • Sys Admn says:

      @mkn1972: Each employer sets the rates, not UHC. UHC administers my plan, which costs $12/30 days for generics, $22/30 days for brand, and $50 for exotics (chemo, not Viagra). My employer is trying to push the mail order option, so I can get 90 day supplies at $32 for generics and $50 for brands. I use Target or CVS for most of the generics, and pay $12/90 days.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @mkn1972: Wouldn’t work for me. My insurance refuses to pay squat for routine meds unless I get the second and subsequent fills through mail order. It’s quite reasonable, 10 dollars for 90 days per scrip, but it’s a hassle if I lose (or someone takes) my pills.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @speedwell, avatar of snark: Another thing to think about: If you live in a place where the climate can be extreme (one way or the other) mail order prescription meds can be a dangerous thing.. Some pills require being stored at a certian temperature.. and sitting out in a mail box until you get home from work can be like the pills sitting in a little metal oven.

        I live in Texas and I will not ever try getting pills in the mail again. I used to have my BC pills mailed out and if they sit out too long they don’t work as well as they would normally. It’s kinda important that they work as well as they can.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          @Kimaroo: Truth. I also live in Texas (odds are, farther south than you, too). Fortunately my apartments have all the mailboxes well under cover, and if something doesn’t fit, the carrier leaves it in the office. But it sure wouldn’t hurt to have the dispenser write temperature cautions on the package, would it.

  13. chiieddy says:

    I use Target’s program for generic levoxyl. It’s $4/mo or $10 for a 3 month supply. If I use my health insurance, it’s $10/mo or $36 for a 3 month supply. Target doesn’t even have my insurance information. Why would I bother?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @chiieddy: Same exactly for me, at Kroger. I LOST my pills once (or they were stolen, not sure) and I needed a refill in a hurry. My insurance makes me fill routine meds through mail-order and I could not wait. My doc called Kroger and authorized a fill, no insurance involved, 90-day supply, in, out, ten dollars, thanks.

    • Kale Comella says:

      @chiieddy: Awesome! glad that you take advantage of the plan. I hope they treat you as well as i treat my customers in my store!

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @chiieddy:

      Oh, I wish Target weren’t on the other side of town. I need more pills and I should ask Dillons about getting a 3-month supply. I hate going in every month. My thyroid and BCs never run out at the same time.

  14. chiieddy says:

    @BytheSea: Yes, but the drugs are loss leaders for the companies offering them at $4. This means they cost more than that but they’re offering them at this price to get you in their store.

  15. OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave says:

    I wish I could get $4 prescriptions. Even my Generic is $65 a month. Damn Class 2 controlled substances. Never get any respect.

  16. FreeShaggy says:

    As an intern at a chain pharmacy I can offer a simple, simple solution. Don’t pay for it.

    Obviously there are some drugs that you should absolutely pay for, lik antibiotics, blood pressure meds, diabetes meds, nitro tablets, etc. Things that will most likely extend your life.

    But then there’s a host of other drugs that are just…crap. Most of these are controlled substances. I always smile when someone drops off a script for something like percocet and when I look at them to get their info, they smile. If you are able to do that, chances are you don’t need what you’ve been prescribed. I’ve seen those in arm braces come in and that I can understand. But for everyone else I wish I could legally say, “Go take some damn tylenol.”

    So ask your doctor about the meds he prescribed and see if you can get him to priortize them in order of importance. The pharmacist will be able to tell you what the drug does, but without knowing what your doctor’s expected outcomes are, we won’t know exactly what to recommend.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @FreeShaggy: Good post. It also works to tell your doctor that, unless there is a compelling medical reason why not, you would choose a common, effective remedy that you can get as a generic over the latest fancy candy the pharm companies are pushing this week. Doctors understand this. My insurance refused to pay for Cipro once, and the infection was treated quite effectively by a covered antibiotic instead.

    • strixus says:

      @FreeShaggy: If I can smile, it means I haven’t run out of my pain medication yet.

      Kindly to not be a judgmental idiot – some of us have pain symptoms which don’t make us horribly disfigured or require gross external trauma.

    • bohemian says:

      @FreeShaggy: Just because someone doesn’t have their arm in a sling or looks like death warmed over doesn’t mean they don’t have a major problem. There are tons of medical problems that can cause a massive amount of pain other that obvious injuries. Though I am a bit concerned about some of the doctors operating pain clinics as a front for hooking up drug abusers.

    • edwardso says:

      @FreeShaggy: maybe they’re smiling to be polite

    • c_c says:

      @FreeShaggy:
      Remind me to not go to your pharmacy, you righteous bastard. What the hell do they teach in pharmacy school, how to be a judgmental prick?

    • CRNewsom says:

      @FreeShaggy: I would like to point out that there are many more health risks associated with OTC pain relievers (acetometophin, ibuprofen, etc) than with opiods. However, most people are afraid of low dose opiods as they think they are overkill (and in usual prescription dosages, they are).

      I would much rather take a low dose opiod than something that can cause adverse kidney and liver problems.

      /Aspirin is my drug of choice, though.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @CRNewsom: As most people don’t have prescriptions lying around for a bottle of Vicodin, I’d say that despite whatever risk, most people are going to pop an Advil if they have a migraine. I rarely take any medication at all, so this doesn’t bother me.

        • CRNewsom says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: I am not saying that OTC drugs are bad, so please don’t take it that way. The point I was trying to make is that FreeShaggy judges people by the fact that they are taking opiods while completely leaving out that they are an excellent, safe pain treatment. It would be dangerous to take the equivalent amount of a lesser pain medicine to alleviate the pain these people may have.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @FreeShaggy: I’ll make sure to tell my mother to scowl when she goes to pick up my post-C-section painkillers. Just in case it never occurred to you that sometimes people in excruciating pain AREN’T GETTING OUT OF BED and are sending a surrogate.

      • thelushie says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I hope your mom is ok! You know the hilarious (sarcasm implied) about people like freeshaggy is that if they were treated like crap by someone in excruciating pain, they would get all pissy.

        And I seriously doubt that this person is a pharmacy student. Maybe a Pharmacy tech student from the local technical college.

    • Stephmo says:

      @FreeShaggy: I sincerely hope when you’re done with your internship they fail you hard. You really have no business dealing with people if you think you have a better idea of whether or not a medication is appropriate for a consumer based on what you “see” vs. what a doctor’s examination yielded. But thank you for demonstrating exactly why it’s illegal for you to offer your fine advice.

    • RStui says:

      @FreeShaggy: Despite the “reasonable” common sense you appear to be attempting to protray, I would like to suggest that perhaps you are a jackass, and judgemental to boot.

      I don’t take my medications because they make me “happy” or because they “make life easier”. I take them to be normal, because my body doesn’t work that way without them.

      You don’t know what’s wrong with me. You can’t see me off my meds and suicidal, or sleeping 14-18 hours a day because my body hurts, or crying insessently for no apparent reason, so take your “tylenol” and shove it.

      If I COULD be medi-free, I WOULD be. And I HAVE spoken with my Drs (yeah, plural) about my medications, I know what I take them for, what they do specifically to fix what’s wrong with me, how they affect my physical and mental health, AND how they may or may not interact.

      So if I smile at you while I’m getting my prescription, maybe you should attribute it to the fact that I’m happy to be getting them, and excited about how they have changed my life, and STFU with your Judgy-McJudgerson internal monologue.

      I hope this doesn’t get me banned or something, but there are plenty of people out there that are embarrassed about their medications, and you are not helping.

    • OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @FreeShaggy: You know what? After I broke my leg, which caused my Gout to flare up, I was in amazing pain. Was I relieved when the pharmacy opened and I could fill my script after the hospital supplied drugs ran out? Yes. I smiled through the tears. By your standards, anyone who can walk in to your pharmacy should “suck it up”, b/c if they can walk, they can’t be in pain, or suffer from something like a spasm, which doesn’t always act up.

      Or perhaps they smile b/c they are trying to be nice and pleasant. Perhaps you could take a lesson from them.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @FreeShaggy:
      In agreement with everyone else here. At one point I ran out of my migraine meds, and ended up having to go to a random pharmacy to get a refill. I was in the midst of a migraine and had to call someone to take me to the pharmacy – i could barely walk. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and I was out of refills. The stupid urgent care was already closed. And this led to drama…so I got a doc to call in a new Rx, but this was not simple. The doc was at a conference. And of course there are rules about how the Rx has to be called in, which I don’t know, and this had to be dealt with by the pharmacist and the doc, who kept putting us on hold and hanging up.

      And because, as we’ve said so many times in this forum, being polite will get you everywhere, through the nauseous haze that was the migraine, I did my best to be nice and smile at the pharmacist, even if I did come off as if I had an IQ of approximately equivalent to a doorknob. I don’t know if I looked like I was in pain – I was trying to be polite and nice to him and smile, because I was asking him to really go the extra mile for me, all the while hoping against hope I didn’t hurl on the floor.

      You want to judge me for this? Tell me where you work. Next time, I’ll just come in and be a raging C*&$.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @subtlefrog: Yeah, me? I’m smiling because I’m a midwesterner. I smile and apologize to the doctor after I say “OW!” because I don’t want the doctor to feel bad for hurting me (in the course of a diagnostic exam to assess pain, f’ex). So when I’m smiling at the pharmacy, it’s because I’m culturally incapable of NOT smiling at the pharmacist. :P

        • subtlefrog says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (popping ~May 29):
          Hah! I’m a midwesterner, too, by birth (though now transplanted), and hadn’t even thought of that..

          I think you may have something there! The pharmacist, the doctor, the cashier, the bank teller, etc etc…Ahhh the midwest. When I first moved to Miami a few years ago people looked at me like I was insane for smiling at them anywhere. In Miami, it seemed like not only did they not smile, they didn’t even make eye contact…

    • angrychicken says:

      @FreeShaggy: I’m curious, is your advice to those on anti-depressants to just smile and look at pictures of kittens and sunshine? Please do the world a favor and find a new profession.

    • nakedscience says:

      @FreeShaggy: ” I always smile when someone drops off a script for something like percocet and when I look at them to get their info, they smile.”

      Are you fucking kidding me? You are a judgemental ass. My friend just got all four of his COMPACTED wisdom tooth out. According to his wife, he was in a really good mood, even through the INTENSE PAIN. So you’re going to judge him for taking pain medication after getting FOUR TEETH ripped out because he might be able to smile through the pain? REALLY?! Woooowzers.

    • nakedscience says:

      @FreeShaggy: And what of my friend with Fybromialga? She is a happy person and even when she’s in CONSTANT pain — her ENTIRE BODY is in serious pain — she smiles. When she picks up her medication, she smiles. She certainly doesn’t need you — NOT A DOCTOR, not the one who prescribed the medication — to judge her. You don’t know her. You don’t know her medical history. All you see is her smile. And you judge. You aren’t a fucking doctor!

    • CFinWV says:

      @FreeShaggy: Someone quick! Patent this guy, he can diagnose a person just by looking at them!!!!

      Mental note: from now on give the pharmacist on duty the finger so that I can justify my prescriptions.

    • Anne Boleyn says:

      @FreeShaggy: As many people pointed out (but I’m not going to call you a judgemental prick like many of them did) lots of medical issues are not so cut-and-dry. Yes there are a lot of frivolous medications out there that people probably don’t need to take, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss all “quality of life” prescriptions so quickly. Using myself as an example, I take a tri-phasic birth control prescription and have done so since I was 16 (with the consent of my parents.) Not to prevent getting knocked up, but because my natural periods are so long, painful, and heavy that OTC pain medications do not work at all and I was often in bed in excruciating pain for days. I don’t have any “technical” hormone imbalance because I was never tested, but my gynecologist knew very well that being put on a stabilizing regimen of artificial hormones would greatly improve my quality of life.

      Hells yeah I’d be smiling when I picked up my prescription because it honestly made the difference between being in excruciating pain and embarrassing bleeding for a quarter of my adult life and having a “normal”, manageable cycle that I can live with.

      Please just try to be more understanding and judge each medicated person individually and not make sweeping generalizations, because there’s always exceptions.

    • alternatestory says:

      @FreeShaggy: I’ll join the chorus and say, “What the hell?” I have a chronic and painful stomach disease. My GI has prescribed me pain medicine, which helps me go to work and live a normal life. I only take it when I need it, and not every day — but even if I did take it every day, that would be OK with my doctor. Stop judging people (and your customers) by their appearance. I look healthy, but I’m not.

    • bibliophibian says:

      @FreeShaggy: What they all said – especially SubtleFrog (My motto is “Be nice to people; it’s not their fault you’re in pain, and if you’re nice maybe they’ll be nice back”), RStui (2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs especially), Strixus (haven’t run out yet), and NakedScience (fibromyalgia is a stone bitch).

      I could take Tylenol all day and not get any pain relief. The ONLY over the counter medication that ever DID offer me some pain relief was ketoprofen 12.5, and they took that off the market; even then, it would only take the edge off – I still couldn’t walk, lift anything, etc. Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, aspirin, brand name, mag.sal., generic, any combination of the above – none of it works on the chronic pain. And don’t even START with the migraines… (although to be honest I don’t bother taking anything for the migraines if I can’t catch it with the prophylactic; I’m only going to vomit it back up anyway. The only thing that’s ever eased the pain once the headache is full-blown is morphine or Stadol IV; if I miss the prophylactic “window” to prevent the headache from “blossoming” I just go to bed with a bucket and prepare to spend the next 6-36 hours sobbing and vomiting. Fortunately I seldom miss the “window.”)

      I know lots of people who are on opioids (member of a fibromyalgia/chronic pain support group; in addition, I work for an orthopedic group that includes three pain specialists), and not ONE of those people would be on prescription medications if over the counter pain medications worked. We’ve tried it all, in every combination, and we use what works. If Tylenol or Motrin or Aleve worked, believe me, I’d use that. (Well, not Tylenol. The reason I KNOW that I “could take Tylenol all day long and it wouldn’t help” is that I actually overdosed on Tylenol once, trying to take enough to relieve the pain just enough for me to function. I puked for three days, and had liver tests out the wazoo for a year, and still get sick to my stomach if I take any.)

      There are so many holes in your presumptuous, arrogant, condescending position it’s not even funny. Pray to whatever gods you believe in that you, or someone you love, never wind up with a chronic pain condition. But if that happens, know that people are judging you in ignorance just as you once judged others, that they would gladly see you suffer if it fit better into their prejudices.

    • pika2000 says:

      @FreeShaggy: Your way of thinking is not accepted anymore in today’s American society. Simply look at the comments here. Some doctors probably want to prescribe a lot of meds anyway, so that they can write down different diagnosis on their claim and get more reimbursement from the insurance.

  17. LSonnenhimmer says:

    You can easily find those $4 generics at the discount finder site http://www.medtipster.com, it was listed the other day on lifehacker, quite a site.

  18. Kale Comella says:

    I actually work for target in the pharmacy. There are no restrictions on the list, you can download it from the website and it shows you the amount of tabs/caps that would cost $4 a month or $10 for 3 months.

    We brought in a lot of customers that are on medicare part D, so we run their cheaper generics through cash so they can save their part d money for the more expenisve drugs that they must have and not go into their “donut hole”.

    Go to the target website take a look at the list and see if it works out for you. You can always call and we can give you a price over the phone also.

    Good luck to all!

    • OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @Kale Comella: Great Pharmacy, BTW. Two months ago, they switched my generic, and both pharmacists took the time to verify that it had changed b/c the pills changed, and went over the data with me. even more so, last week when I had it filled, the pharmacist wrote/printed the wrong directions on the bottle. Even though I have taken the same script in same dosage for over two years now, the head pharmacist called me up the next day to alert me to the fact it was written on my bottle wrong. Awesome people again. BTW, target Pharmacy, howell NJ.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      @Kale Comella: What is Target’s “preferred” generic lab these days? Just wondering, since the effectiveness of my generic prescription depends on the lab producing it, and I recently was stuck with a useless bottle of pills from a different chain pharmacy that downgraded their lab.

  19. razremytuxbuddy says:

    Three years ago I gave up my BC/BS prescription coverage rider and went with mail order generic for one Rx, and overseas pharmacy for the other Rx I take only occasionally. The savings has been TREMENDOUS. The premium for my prescription coverage was basically a prepay of the two drugs at the non-generic US prices. Add the co-pay to that and I was truly paying a “premium” for my Rx.

  20. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Hurricane season is starting up around here. There’s the economy, various sorts of dissatisfied people running around causing trouble, and epidemics. Why is this relevant? Well, I’m not panicking, but I have made some preparations.

    I’m on a couple of long-term meds that I would be in serious trouble without. Problem is, if I try to buy extra meds through my insurance company mail-order (required by my plan), they flatly refuse, claiming they absolutely can’t fill until a certain period of time has gone by. Piss on them.

    I explained what I wanted to my doctor, who relented and wrote a scrip after I pointed out that Amaryl was not exactly a drug of abuse, and I went out and got a three-month supply of affordable generics.

    Somehow my insurance company got wind of this, and they are sending me double my medications, and billing me for them. I called them to tell them to knock it off, and they said that the doctor wrote a scrip for them, so they were going to dispense them whatever I said. OK, whatever.

  21. BigHeadEd says:

    I’m with razermytuxbuddy on this. The argument gets easier when your health insurance pays nothing toward prescription drugs. Lipitor at my local pharmacy is over $150 a month. I buy the same Pfizer manufactured drug from the UK for 1/3rd that amount.

  22. bohemian says:

    I had lousy insurance that had the arbitrary tier system. I started moving scripts over to Target’s $4 program when it first came out. They automatically ran my refills through my insurance and they came out as $10 or more. When I asked they said my insurance had a minimum payment. Well duh, then don’t run it through insurance. When the reran them as cash I got them for $4. So sometimes you have to ask some questions.

    Our new insurance pays a percentage on any prescription even the $4 ones. So some of them end up being 86 cents.

    Don’t expect doctors to know if something you take has a generic either. I had a doctor arguing with my insurance over giving me Mobic and it was costing me quite a bit in the third tier. I happened to see the generic version of it on the $4 list at Target. Asked the pharmacist, she called the doctor. It went down to $4 just by asking some questions.

    Doctors are also way too eager to prescribe new and expensive drugs when something cheaper and older might work just fine. Some of these newer drugs have some seriously dangerous side effect. Many of them the side effects are not told to the public until it has been on the market for a while. I would rather not be the FDA’s guinea pig.

  23. Nix Smith says:

    One big mistake a lot of people make is to stick with only one pharmacy. I regularly call all of the local pharmacies to price all of my prescriptions. Unfortunately I do have to drive to a few different places, but what I save on price makes it worth it. The price differences between stores amazes me. One of my drugs costs $10.11 a month at my local grocery store, but at the pharmacy in the same shopping center it costs more than three times as much. Another one is $9 a month at Target, but about $25 at CVS. It’s worth taking the time to call around, even if you have insurance. The first one will go down the 11 cents a month when I get prescription coverage, the second one would actually go up in price (and both are generic). It makes me think those commercials telling you to be sure to only go to one pharmacy are there to make sure that pharmacy gets ALL OF YO DOLLAZ.

    • DrRonster says:

      @Nix Smith:
      Stick with 1 pharmacy. If you are taking several drugs from different pharmacies there is no way for any of the pharmacies to find interactions such as a Statin for Cholesterol and any member of the Erythromycin family. I usually have to enter in a program all the drugs that an individual is taking to find if what I add will interact. Good example was a pt on 10 different meds with all sorts of interactions with several moderate to severe interactions. I could not render any treatment whatsoever. That was less than 2 months ago. She died 2 weeks ago!

      • Nix Smith says:

        @SalenaBabblerash: Being allergic to a good number of drugs, I am extremely diligent to make sure that every pharmacy I go to has a complete list of everything that I take and everything I’m allergic to. I’m not careless enough to allow my need to save money to be detrimental to my health. The cost difference is too large for me to not shop around. I do understand that many people aren’t as good about keeping their pharmacies so informed, so my method wouldn’t work for them, but until everyone is willing to charge rates that are at least similar, I don’t have a choice, my income is simply too low.

  24. Anonymous says:

    There is a store in St. Louis called Schnucks. They offer quite a few drugs at the low low cost of FREE. Zero, Nada, not even $0.01. Totally free – no club to join, no frequent buyer card, you walk in, get it and walk out. Pretty nifty.

  25. R3PUBLIC0N says:

    I only there was something you could take to make you less mad at them

  26. giggitygoo says:

    Wait a minute, hold on here – Walmart in a Consumerist story in a positive light?? You mean that Walmart’s infamously evil low prices actually helping someone keep their prescription drug costs under control? I refuse to believe it. You see, everyone who has ever worked for, shopped at, or even looked at a Walmart is an evil Nazi vampire. What about all the Mom and Pop pharmacies that will do out of business now because they can’t just overcharge people like B. for medicines whenever they feel like it? Don’t you know that Walmart doesn’t give the high schoolers who stock shelves part time free health insurance and a pension plan?!? You’re evil Consumerist for posting this story! Evil I say!

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Walmart in a Consumerist story in a positive light?

      @giggitygoo: It’s not the first time it’s happened. It’s not even the first time they’ve talked about the generic drug program.

  27. SabrinaFaire says:

    I tried to switch my Rx to Walmart b/c of the $4 plan but apparently transferring and filling it are two different things in their eyes. So I then transferred it to Target who had no problems. After I moved I transferred it again to the Hy-Vee pharmacy because they have a drive-thru. Yes. I’m that lazy. Bite me.

  28. edwardso says:

    I just joined the program at Harris Teeter. It’s $5 per year for the family and they offer 90 day supplies for $9.99. The savings over 3 months isn’t that great but my insurance complany won’t fill my maintinence (prozac) medications for more than one month at a time unless I do mail order and pay for shipping, which I don’t want to do. Since I’m at the store all the time anyway it works out perfectly

  29. OneTrickPony says:

    Unfortunately, none of the routine prescriptions in our household are on either Target’s or Walmart’s $4 generic list.

    I’m also kind of a time = money gal, so the fact that my nearest CVS is an 8 minute drive RT and 30 seconds to walk across the parking lot, or a 40 minute walk (combinable with walking the dog, a trip to the bank or post office), vs. a 20 min RT trip to Target or 45 minutes to Walmart under the best of traffic circumstances, and longer treks through the parking lot to boot–these factors strongly influences my choices. I certainly wouldn’t drive out to Walmart to save $6 vs. a $10 generic copay at CVS.

  30. Gina M Clifton says:

    My husband and I both have allergies and are unable to take the new Sudafed PE over the counter drug. We had been buying the store brand psuedoephedrine, which you are limited to 1 pkg of 20 count 12-hour extended release ($12) per month by the FDA’s regulations. I asked my Dr. and he prescribed generic pseudoephedrine. 100 pills per month, insurance does not cover, $7 per month. Only drawback is Target pharmacy had to order the medication, they did not have it in stock. Also, hubby was changed to a new blood pressure medication which our insurance (United Healthcare) has in Tier III ($40), but our pharmacist told him to tell the Dr. to prescribe the old blood pressure medication ($10) plus the additive in the new medication ($4), which saved us $26 per month. Thanks, Target Pharmacy!

  31. AldisCabango says:

    Generic drugs are not always the same. True they must have the same active ingredients in the same dosage, somtime inert ingredients can cause some difference in a way drug behaved. So try the generic and if you get the same results then its all good.

  32. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    I hate Wal Mart’s employee treatment, too, but I just cannot afford what most of the other pharmacies in my area charge. My CIGNA plan only pays 50% of the cost of meds, and I’d rather pay $10 for 90 days worth of a drug than the $40 or $50 other places charge.

    I spent over $4000 on prescriptions last year, and it’ll be tough again this year. Any way I can save, I have to take.

  33. RStui says:

    I get my generic Prozac at WalMart, and my monthly prescription would be $4, except I buy quarterly, because my healthcare (rightly) classifies it as a “maintenance drug” (just like they do B/C — rightly, again), so I got 3 months of both the prozac and the B/C and one prescription of generic naproxen for a whopping $24.

    BUT, even if I didn’t use my health care, my cost monthly would only be $8-$12. Hate on WalMart all you want, but THEY are the ones revolutionizing the prescription drug industry, NOT Medicare or the Gov’t.

    Go WalMart! Land of Happiness and Cheap Pills!!

    • simplekismet says:

      @RStui: Walmart is not “revolutionizing” the prescription drug industry. They are putting smaller pharmacies out of business by selling a list of drugs at a loss because they have the front-end to support it. Other pharmacies now must try to keep up. Also, insurance companies now think that if Walmart can survive on $4 scripts, then everyone can, and are cutting back their reimbursements to all pharmacies (again killing smaller pharmacies).

      This has the byproduct that people without health insurance or with crappy health insurance now have access to meds, which is great, but don’t think for a second they’re doing this to revolutionize healthcare. They’re just trying to drive everyone else out of business.

  34. rubella says:

    Your insurance company LOVES Walmart’s $4 generics. If you pay for all of your Rx, then they pay for none of it. They get your premiums and pay nothing for your Rx.

    [www.drugchannels.net]

  35. DrRonster says:

    As a prescriber, I try to write only for generics. I even inform my pts of the free Rx program at Meijers.
    As a pt, I bring in the list from Walmart’s website of Pharmacueticals covered under the $4 and $10/3month program. A generic statin which does the same as Lipitor is available on the list. I paid $10 for a scrpt that would cost almost $500 directly from the Pharmacuetical supply wholesaler. Just checked at http://www.walmart.com/catalog/catalog.gsp?cat=546834&fromPageCatId=14503 and found 2 different statins covered.

  36. theblackdog says:

    It’s a little misleading for me to say No to this because it is rare that I need to have a perscription filled. However, the next time I do have a ‘script, I’m going to check into the $4 generics.

  37. Etoiles says:

    The only thing that would make me hesitate is a general sense that not all generic drugs are identical to each other. In the case of fluoxetine, yeah, it’s basically just unlabeled Prozac. But in my dad’s diabetes and blood pressure meds, not all generics are identical to each other. And in women’s birth control pills, there are like eight thousand kinds of generics, and they aren’t all identical to each other. The $10 generic might actually be a different pill than the $4 one Target has.

    But if I get strep throat? I’ll take the damn cheap amoxicillin from whoever has it.

    • Sir Winston Thriller says:

      @Etoiles: But in my dad’s diabetes and blood pressure meds, not all generics are identical to each other.

      I’m curious as to which ones these are, and why you say that.

      • Etoiles says:

        @Sir Winston Thriller: I honestly, genuinely can’t remember the details. My parents take 36 daily pills between them and live 400 miles away from me — I’m just remembering things that have filtered to me over the last couple of years.

    • Nix Smith says:

      @Etoiles: And in women’s birth control pills, there are like eight thousand kinds of generics, and they aren’t all identical to each other.

      True, but they can’t and won’t just randomly give you another hormone. The pharmacist can tell you if your generic is the same as theirs or not. If you look up a name-brand drug in any drug guide, it will list the available generics that match and are identical to that name-brand, and are therefore allowed to be dispensed as a prescription for said name-brand.

      • Etoiles says:

        @Nix Smith: You say that, but it’s happened to a fair number of women at one point or another (me included) where you go to the pharmacy and pick up the bag and say, “…mine are pink? this is blue…” and then find out that the generic you’ve been written a scrip for (that you’ve been taking for 5-10 years) has suddenly been switched out from under you for another generic pill. That your body doesn’t like.

        • Nix Smith says:

          @Etoiles: Are you sure you were given the correct drug? My pharmacy accidentally gave me the wrong little sheet of pills once. I called them and brought it back for the correct one. Other than the binding agent, one generic for a drug is the same as the next.

  38. Admiral_John says:

    The one nice thing about my employer-provided insurance is that generic prescriptions have a $0 copay, and since the three drugs I take and the five my wife takes are all generics, our monthly prescription copays are $0.

  39. fromoverthere says:

    This may have been discussed above — but I’d steer clear of advising generic prescriptions broadly. I know that one of the meds I’m on has recently gone generic — even with a 10% fatality rate.

    Which sucks, because as insurance premiums skyrocket, there’s little to make one pause and stay away from taking that risk if it means leaner bills.

    • Sir Winston Thriller says:

      @fromoverthere: This may have been discussed above — but I’d steer clear of advising generic prescriptions broadly. I know that one of the meds I’m on has recently gone generic — even with a 10% fatality rate.

      Why? What makes you think generic drugs are worse than the name-brand?

  40. Anonymous says:

    I use CVS for $10/90 days on most of my generics. I had one (Simvastatin) that was not on the CVS list, so I filled that one at Rite Aid for $16/90 days. This compared to $15/30 days from my insurance company. I guess this is a loss-leader for the stores, to get you in the door. I’ll take it as long as it’s available.

  41. Ed Chan says:

    If you have a drug deductible under insurance, you should still have them claim insurance. They’ll still charge you only $4, but the $4 will go towards your deductible, and little by little, you’ll get to your limit sooner.

  42. shepd says:

    And what’s the dispensing fee for the $4 meds? When I got a ‘scrip filled for a dozen Tylenol-3 without insurance, it ended up costing me a bit over $20. $7 for the pills and $13 for “dispensing” them to me.

    Now I have insurance I still visit the places with the lowest dispensing fee, not just out of habit, but because dispensing fees are bullshit.

  43. vladthepaler says:

    If I were in the OP’s situation, I’d just ask the pharmacist to fill the prescription with the name brand stuff instead of the generic: the copay is the same, so the insurance company will have to eat the cost of the name brand. If enough people decide that when the down payment’s the same they’d may as well take the name brand, the insurance company will have a financial incentive to offer a lower copay on generics.

  44. Erin Cummins says:

    My health insurance refuses to pay a dime for my birth control. They list it on Tier 3 which costs me $55 every month.

    I mentioned this to my Doctor, who informed me that all gynos and planned parenthoods get free samples of birth control from the drug companies which they usually hand out when a person is looking to switch (tired of the pill, try the patch for a month; tired of the patch, try the ring). She loaded me up with 3 months worth! So ladies if you pay way too much to keep from getting preggers, talk to your Doc and see if she can’t lend a hand. Worth a try.

  45. babyruthless says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (popping ~May 29): Amen, sister. When I had my wisdom teeth out, my husband poured me onto the couch, and then I sent him to the pharmacy to get me my pillzz!!! He was chipper, and I was death warmed over, back at home with my Tivo and semi-consciousness.

  46. sponica says:

    I’ve never done the 4 dollar generic thing. Mainly because I am nowhere near Walmart or Target and I’m a mail order fanatic. Name brand birth control (Ortho-Lo, then Yaz, then back to Ortho-LO) 15 bucks for a 3 month supply. I pay as much per year as my sister who gets a monthly generic.

  47. BridgetPentheus says:

    But what you need to remember that although they have the same active ingredients, the ingredients that they use to bind them together and the dyes they use can be different. For someoene like me I have to stay on the same drug once I find it (and for the generics I do take the pharmacist warns me if it will look different) b/c i am highly allergic to some dyes. So while generics are a good idea, people who can not take them shouldn’t be punished by having to pay much more

  48. valtr0n says:

    Kroger pharmacies, at least in my division, offer $4 generic prescriptions for a 30 day supply and $10 for a 90 day supply, with over 400 generics on the list.

    If you don’t have qualms about generics, anywhere that offers $4 prescriptions is the way to go.

    • BridgetPentheus says:

      @valtr0n:
      Again those who can not take generics for one reason or another should NOT be punished and pay more. My doctor would happily write a note that i am allergic to certain dyes and medicines and I should have the right to pay the generic drug price b/c my tax money went to NIH to develop these drugs. Furthermore we pay far more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world, with or without coverage. My allergy drug they flat out refuse to cover so I must beg for samples.

  49. Jay Gonzz says:

    Wl-Mrt s kng. ll f th hm’s tht r scrmng bt WMT rnng th cty shld lt n b blt n nn Sqr nd lt shpprs dcd…n?

    Whn fly bck nt NYC frm Knss Cty my lggg s ppprd wth tms hv prchsd frm WMT, spr chp.

    fw yrs g whn ws frcd t prchs str brnd sprn t Dn Rd fr bt fr bcks ($4) rlzd tht NYC ndd chng.

    f WMT ws llwd t pn str n nn Sqr, t wld b lk spryng blch nt clny f mld…