Rx price check: Blockbuster generics vary widely

It pays to shop around for generic Lipitor, Plavix, Singulair, Lexapro, Actos


SAN ANTONIO – A price check of five blockbuster drugs that now have generics on the market, including Lipitor for cholesterol and the blood-thinner Plavix, shows significant price differences depending on which pharmacy you shop.

In fact, you could be paying 10 to 25 times more than you have to.

For consumers who do not have insurance coverage or whose insurance no longer covers their drugs, paying the cash price can be a hardship.

Atorvastatin is the generic for Lipitor, once the biggest-selling drug.

A price check of pharmacies at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, HEB, Target and Costco showed a three-month supply costs more than $400 at CVS and Target. The same drug costs $37.19 at Costco.

By federal law, consumers do not need to be a member to use the pharmacy at club warehouses. 

It can pay to buy into retailers' drug savings programs.

For example, clopidogrel, the generic Plavix, is $601 cash price at HEB. However, if you buy into the $5 HEB Rx Platinum Rewards program, the price drops to $133.61.

Walgreens' Prescription Drug Savings Club also reduces the out-of-pocket price for generic Plavix from $528  to $142.

A check of prices for three other drugs, the generics for the diabetes drug Actos, the anti-depressant Lexapro and the asthma drug Singulair, also showed CVS and Target to the the most expensive and  Costco the least expensive by far.

Target has a savings program, however pharmacists said they could not quote any discounts until the purchase was rung up.

If someone were to purchase all five of the drugs priced, he could end up paying more than $2400 at CVS or Target.  The same drugs would cost $162 at Costco.

Walgreens, HEB and Walmart pricing fell in the middle.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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