An Example Of When Buying A Generic Drug Can Save You 72%

Yeah, buying generics drugs instead of their snazzy brand name versions could stifle an allergy, calm a nasty cough or banish that throb on the cheap. But at more than half the price?

Our savvy shopping siblings over at our sister publication ShopSmart took the time to price out containers of 100 caplets and tablets of Advil, Pfizer’s brand of the pain-killing ibuprofen drug.

The best price they could find was at Walmart: $8.43 (Walgreens pharmacies had one of the highest prices at $9.85 per bottle.) Meanwhile, the chain’s own brand of ibuprofen was selling for just $2.36 — a whopping 72% cheaper!

Other generic store ibuprofen vs. Advil comparisons:

Target store brand $2.79 (vs. Advil $8.57) — Savings: 67%

Walgreens store brand $7.30 (Advil $9.85) — Savings: 26%

CVS store brand $7.67 (Advil $9.60) — Savings: 20%

What are the most outrageous price differences you’ve ever seen?


Edit Your Comment

  1. clippy2.0 says:

    That’s funny, I can’t seem to find a price for the generic form of my insulin. And yet, I still have to pay top tier pricing for it due to my insurance company being a bag of ass!

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      and anyone who tells you drug companies and insurance companies are not working together are lying!

      Source: Friend who works for Pfizer, another who works for Cigna, and another who works as an auctuary

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Sounds like you might be better of with a HSA policy. You pay out-of-pocket for most of those kinds of things but can easily save $500-$1,000+ each month in premiums.

    • dush says:

      That’s critically necessary for your health. Why aren’t you getting it a no share cost?

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        you’re funny. i’ve been told that i could be using a cheaper version of my super rapid insulin that my doctor put me on due to complications and therefore i pay top tier pricing for it too since there’s no generic
        there’s not even a generic of most insulins. if you want humalog for a generic price you go to walmart, ask for reli-on brand insulin and they take out a bottle of humalog and slap a reli-on label on it in front of you

    • makoto says:

      It’s probably because your insulin has no generic. Most drugs take at least 7 years to become a generic.

  2. Biblio Fiend says:

    For anyone who takes a daily OTC allergy pill (Claritin, Zyrtec, etc.) be sure to check the warehouse club stores for their generic versions. I was able to get a year’s supply of the Kirkland generic for Zyrtec for $16 last fall at Costco. Even the generics at Walgreens and Target don’t come near that price.

    • Coffee says:

      This. You get huge amounts for like $10-$15.

    • CortJstr says:

      I just got Target brand Zyrtec at $32 for 180 pills. The name brand was $41 for 75 pills. I don’t have a Costco membership so it didn’t occur to me to look there.

      • tralfaz says:

        You can get a year’s supply (360 pills) of the generic for about $15-20.

        Or, of course, you could buy the name brand at a retail store for $15… for 20 pills.

      • brettb says:

        At Costo, 365 “AllerTec” pills is $17.99. I don’t have a CostCo membership (or one near me) so I had bought them from a 3rd party seller on Amazon once. But then I realized that the 3% non-member surcharge + $17.99 (and free shipping) was less expensive than the prices on Amazon. And some 3rd party Amazon sellers don’t ship the “freshest” meds. (ie. Use by date barely more than 1 year out, which for a 30-day supply wouldn’t be a problem….)

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      Seriously, I don’t get why people pay for the name brand when it’s the same chemical. However, I’m glad people do stupidly pay for name brands because it is the name brand companies that do a bulk of the research for drugs that eventually become generic once the original patents expire.

    • framitz says:

      My doctor checks and makes sure to prescribe non over the counter allergy medications.
      The co-pay is 3 to 5 bucks and the stronger medications have more effect than the over the counter medications (which don’t do anything for me).

      He also gives me as many samples as I can carry, so I don’t even need to fill the prescription for 1 to 6 weeks, saving even more.

      We always go for the generic brands of common stuff like Tylenol (can’t spell acet…. whatever)

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Incorrect. They are exactly the same medicine. If you think there’s any difference in efficacy, that’s a placebo effect.

        • justabunchofwords says:

          Actually, YOU are incorrect. Yes, the active ingredients may be the same, but the delivery mechanism can be different, making it less effective for some people.

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I don’t get it…an article that ends with a question and it wasn’t written by Phil…

    Anyway, yes, there’s no way to justify paying for a brand name medication at all. Pure sucker play.

  4. May contain snark says:

    That doll has a five-head.

  5. scoobydoo says:

    I’m not sure ibuprofen is such a good example – everyone know that the generic of that is much cheaper. The real examples are in the specialized drugs. Things for hypertension or diabetes.

    • apasserby says:

      Agreed. A few of the meds I take are available as generics. But, at least in my case, some of them didn’t work as well.

  6. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    Definitely check out the clubs. At Sam’s:

    360 Advil is $16.48 ($4.58 per 100)
    1,000 Sam’s brand $8.86 (you do the math)

    • axolotl says:

      Hell no I quit high school years ago I shouldn’t have to do math no more, you ain’t tricking me.

  7. Velifer says:

    You wouldn’t believe the price difference between Consumerist and Consumer Reports. They both provide questionable consumer information, but one is like an infinite amount more expensive than the other.

  8. PunditGuy says:

    If Lipitor is working for you, why switch? — actual Lipitor commercial

    Because simvastatin is $4 a month and Lipitor cost me nearly $75. — me

  9. ardala says:

    I have a friend with a corn allergy – almost all generics use corn starch or similar as a filler for their pills. Consequently, my OTC meds are way cheaper than hers.

    • Billy C says:

      I was wondering why generics were so much cheaper if the medication is the same. I’m sure the filler isn’t the only factor. But since I don’t have allergies, I can save the premium on paying for fancier bottles on the name-brands.

  10. SlimDan22 says:

    I used to get good prices for Allegra D with my dads insurance, it was actually really reasonable and seemed to work best for my allergy’s.

    Then they made Allegra over the counter and my Dad’s insurance wouldn’t cover it anymore. I would have to pay full price.

    Funny thing is my father works for a reputable hospital. Our health insurance is horrendous, we have to go through hoops to find drugs they will cover without paying hundreds of dollars.. You figure hospitals would offer good health insurance without being extremely expensive.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      It has to be paid for one way or another. Either you have a low premium and high deductible or a high premium and low deductible. Or you’re unlucky, and have a high premium and high deductible — There’s nothing like spending $1,000+ each month for insurance and still having a $5,000 deductible.

    • sponica says:

      it’s the opposite from what I’ve gathered…my sister is an RN and won’t get insurance through her employer. because the hospital is basically eating the cost of treating the uninsured and poor, there’s no money to subsidize health insurance (a family plan costs her 1200 a month or something like that whereas a family plan would cost me 180 a month)

      • baristabrawl says:

        It’s called cost-shifting. Because people can’t pay for their care, providers jack up the cost and pass that on to everyone else.

  11. BennieHannah says:

    Here’s something I learned while working among illegals, the working poor/uninsured or underinsured — you can buy amoxicillian (Fish Mox) from cephalexin (Fish Flex) OTC at pet stores. They swore by it and thought I was silly for suggesting a doctor visit because they might not even need antibiotics. What an eye opener.

    • incident_man says:

      You can also get tetracycline (which is more effective against bacteria that cause upper respiratory illnesses) at a co-op or animal feed store w/o a prescription. It’s in powder form, it tastes like hell, but it works all the same.

  12. DogiiKurugaa says:

    Target brand Randitidine 75mg (80 tablets) – 4.59
    Zantac 75 (30 tablets) – 7.89

    They didn’t carry the 80 ct box or else I would’ve compared them instead, but given the going rate for 30 then you can assume it was probably somewhere close to $20 for 80.

  13. CompyPaq says:

    Zytec – $30 for 30 pills
    Allertec (at Costco) – $15 for 365 pills

    The membership pays for itself.

  14. mikec041 says:

    My insurance company just upped the price of my GENERIC medication by 260% over last month. Glad Walmart still charges only $4.

    • DogiiKurugaa says:

      I’m glad my roommate is off Hydrocodone/APAP (Vicodin) because Walmart just raised the price of it by nearly 50% in the last couple of months. Went from $32 for a 30 day supply to $47. And this is the generic, you can just imagine how much the name brand costs.

  15. Justin D. Morgan says:

    My local Sam’s Club has 400 ct. Cetirizine for $14.88 right now, at least according to their website. That is a steal!

    But alas, my Sam’s membership has lapsed…

    (We have no Costco here.)

  16. videoman says:

    I hate to compliment Walmart, but I do prefer to buy generic drugs there because their prices are so cheap. Walgreens prices are never a bargain.

  17. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    Walmart has a new section by the pharmacy where everything is 88 cents. They’ve got all kinds of generic pills, ointments, and other stuff.

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      Hmmmmm, generic medications in a big pile in a wire basket for 88 cents.
      Anyone who takes any of those meds and gets sick on them should be turned
      away from an emergency for terminal stupidity.

      • CPC says:

        Its not a wire basket, it’s a regular shelf. FWIW, their generic 88-cent DayQuil and Tylenol work really well.

  18. Rhinoguy says:

    Be careful about oversimplifying what you say about generics. I take quite a few drugs daily, some generics, some not. Of the generics some that are made by more than one company all work the same. One of them is made by two companies, one of which does not work at all, the other just fine. And my most important drug is made by several generic companies, NONE of which work at all. Since that is the one that keeps me alive as opposed to just comfortable I have no choice. Generic is about $2900 per year, name brand is $16,000 per year. I’ve been taking it for twenty years. Do the arithmetic.

  19. Rhinoguy says:

    Be careful about oversimplifying what you say about generics. I take quite a few drugs daily, some generics, some not. Of the generics some that are made by more than one company all work the same. One of them is made by two companies, one of which does not work at all, the other just fine. And my most important drug is made by several generic companies, NONE of which work at all. Since that is the one that keeps me alive as opposed to just comfortable I have no choice. Generic is about $2900 per year, name brand is $16,000 per year. I’ve been taking it for twenty years. Do the arithmetic.

  20. McDoctor says:

    Ibuprofen and other old drugs long off patent obviously have well-established generics and there is no reason to not get the generic; however, there have been examples of new generic drugs that did not work as well as the brand. For drugs that are critical to your health which are recently off-patent, I always recommend starting out with the brand and switching to the generic once the patient’s response to the brand name drug has been established. In my opinion, this is something that a good doctor will be aware of and will discuss with their patient.

  21. Rachacha says:

    My daughter had a skin condition that required a prescription cream to be applied to her skin. The cream came in very small packages intended to be a single dose, there was probably only enough medication in each package to equal the volume of about 1/4 the size of an average pea.

    The cost of a 15 day supply of medication $378…thank goodness for insurance.

    Unfortunately, there was no generic, which is why the drug company could charge so much.

    • One-Eyed Jack says:

      I have a prescription for the ointment Taclonex. Without insurance, the Walgreens price was nearly $700. My co-pay was $35, but the manufacturer also offered a zero-co-pay coupon.

  22. Annika-Lux says:

    If you don’t know to look for the generic ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc… just… just stay home. Come on. I don’t know how many people I’ve educated about Tylenol PM… if you don’t need a painkiller, buy the cheapest store-brand diphenhydramine (Benadryl) you can, it’s the same thing. Sometimes I’m annoyed by how we need a prescription for every little thing in the US, but sometimes it’s like… thank goodness, because these people are idiots.

  23. The_Fuzz_53 says:

    You should look in to generic Zyrtec. $35 for 75 name brand pills and $17 for 365 Costco brand pills.

  24. Beef Supreme says:

    Allegra is the one that is screwing me. Thanks to changes, OTC drugs are no longer covered by my Flexible Spending account. My doctor wrote me a RX which the pharmacy filled for a year, until now.

    Luckily, Sam’s Club has generic Allegra for $29.88 for 120 count.


  25. OMG_BECKY says:

    Don’t buy generic (or non-generic) Cipro unless you want to risk being disabled for life!!!

  26. OMG_BECKY says:

    Cipro is poison dot com

  27. Bionic Data Drop says:

    Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, and Bayer all have to pay for their commercials somehow. Come on people, show your love for commercials and buy name brand.