How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs
  • Opening Intro -

    Prescription medicines are a necessary part of our lives.

    When we’re ill, we seek out antibiotics to ease our symptoms and to speed up our recovery.


If we have a medical condition, prescriptions can maintain our health, even save our lives. The cost of such medicines can take its toll on any budget, therefore exploring ways to save money is not only helpful, but essential for most of us.

Let’s take a look at how you can save money on prescription drugs:

Use mail order — When you need your antibiotics right away, mail order will not work for you. However, if you have a long term condition that requires regular usage of a medicine, such as a diabetic drug, then ordering your drugs through the mail can save you money. Mail order pharmacies have a lower overhead and can pass those savings on to you by lowering your drug costs.

Tell your physician — Your doctor may not be aware that you are unable to afford your medicines. Explain to your physician what challenges you are facing and she may be able to prescribe something that is different, but still effective, or provide samples she has on hand. The medical community is keenly aware of the problems some people are having in keeping pace with health costs, but she may not know about your own situation.

Inquire about generics — Not every generic drug should be explored, but some are effective in relieving your symptoms or controlling your condition. Talk with your doctor about options and get her approval before choosing a generic. Your health insurer may pressure you into selecting a generic, but don’t be forced into settling for something that is not as effective.

Ask about splitting drugs — Your doctor may be able to prescribe for you a higher dosage of a drug and then instruct you to split the pill. For example, if your heart medication calls for a 40 mpg dosage, she may prescribe 80 mpg and tell you to pick up a pill splitter at your pharmacist. A doubled dosage rarely means twice the price, rather a slight increase of about 10 percent. You’ll save money by splitting your pills, but only do this by following your doctor’s orders.

Prescription assistance plan — If you don’t have a prescription benefit, you may be able to buy a prescription plan that will give you discounts of 10 to 50 percent or more on your medicines. Although these plans aren’t as comprehensive as a prescription benefit you can get through work, you may be able to save money without paying a hefty annual fee. Also talk with your pharmacist to find out if the pharmacy has an internal plan you’re eligible to join.

Tell your drug company — If you can’t afford a medicine, the pharmaceutical company may be able to help out. You may have listened to the ads stating, “If you can’t afford your medication, Astra Zeneca may be able to help.” Patient assistance programs are usually run by the pharmaceutical companies and are designed to help people who are truly in need. Call the toll-free number on your prescription bottle and get connected with the person who can help you out.

Think Twice — With prescription drugs freely marketed on television, consumers may be under the impression that a particular drug will be the “cure” that they seek. Be realistic about what a drug is promising and what sort of benefit you’re seeking. When you discover that your prescription plan doesn’t cover a particular boutique medicine, you may decide that the out of pocket cost doesn’t justify its supposed benefit.

Don’t stop taking your medicines because you can’t afford to pay for them. One or more options may be the solution you need to afford the prescriptions you must have.


WebMD: Pill Splitting: When Is It Safe? When Is It Unsafe?; R. Morgan Griffin; October 4, 2010 How to Get Help Paying for Drugs You Can’t Afford; Anne Marie O’Connor; January 11, 2011

Augusta Chronicle: I Can’t Afford My Medicine. What Can I Do?; March 13, 2005

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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".