A new tool to help reduce prescription costs

pill bottle

It’s no secret that prescription drug costs can put a big dent in your retirement budget.  What you may not know is that the cost of those drugs can vary (sometimes drastically) based on which pharmacy fills your prescription.

The assumption is that drugs have set prices and every pharmacy charges the same price for the same drug.  The reality is that pharmacists charge what they want.  If you have a high deductible health plan or you’re in the “donut hole” on the Medicare Prescription Drug plan, going to the wrong pharmacy can mean much higher out-of-pocket costs.  Until recently, there was no tool to compare what different pharmacies were charging for a certain drug in your area. 

Doug Hirsch and Scott Marlette have changed that.  They were early employees at Facebook until eventually moving on to pursue other ventures.  One day Doug had a prescription that he needed to have filled.  The price of the drug at his regular pharmacy seemed really high, so he shopped around and found that the cost varied significantly.  Long story short, they figured out a way to create a huge database of drug prices from all over the country and launched a new website called GoodRX where people can enter a drug name and their location and get a comparison of what pharmacies are charging.

To get an idea of the diversity of prices, I went to GoodRX and compared prices on a variety of different drugs.  For some drugs, the prices were very consistent from pharmacy to pharmacy.  For others, there was a huge difference.  For example, I looked up a variety of drugs used in the treatment of colon cancer.  The high and low for my area are listed below.

Leuprolide—High: $436.17, Low: $188.52

Taxotere—High: $640.61, Low: $275.12

Flutamide—High: $50.14, Low: $29.20

As you can see, those are some pretty wide swings.  If you visit the site, you’ll notice that there are coupons available for many drugs and there is also a mobile App available so you can check prices while you’re actually in the pharmacy.

Have a great weekend!

Joe

Photo by Wil Taylor.  Used under Creative Commons License.

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