Prescription drug spending jumps 13 percent

Comparing prices can save big bucks on generics

SAN ANTONIO – The rising price of prescription drugs is enough to make Linda Ailshie feel sick.

"It is expensive," she said. "Mine is $50. It went from $5 to $50 in one week."

Spending for prescription drugs, including brand names and generics, jumped 13 percent last year compared to the year before.

There are ways to keep more of your money in your own pocket.

Despite rising prices for generic drugs, using a generic version when possible can still be a big money-saver. Still, it pays to shop around.

Consumer Reports just checked  prices at nearly 200 pharmacies nationwide and found prices can differ by as much as $100 for the same generic drug.

For example, a month's supply of atorvastatin, the generic version of Lipitor, ranged from $11-$199.

Their shoppers found what KSAT 12 News price checks have found before: Costco is often substantially less expensive than other chains. Shoppers do not have to be a member of a warehouse club to use its pharmacy.

Wherever you shop, if you have insurance, you might be wise not to use it.

"For some medications, if your drug insurance copay is more than $10, you may be better off not using your insurance and just paying  the retail price," said Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports.

HEB, Walmart, Sam's Club, Walgreens,  CVS, Target and others offer hundreds of generics at deep discounts for as little as $4 a month and $10 for a three months' supply.

Independent pharmacies may offer bargain prices and match competitors' prices, according to the secret shoppers.

And, they say, don't be afraid to simply ask your pharmacist for a lower price.

"It worked for our secret shoppers," said Gill. "In one case, we saved $31."

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