As a pharmacist, I understand customers’ frustration with the increasing price of their medication.  Sometimes people have to choose between buying much needed medication or paying bills, and, often, it’s the medication that gets pushed aside. Well, Iʼm here to provide a few helpful tips on how to save money on your prescription medication.

GO GENERIC.  Iʼm sure you’ve heard over and over again that generic brands save money. Yet still, I hear customers either say they’ll only buy name brand or that the name brand works better.  Honestly, I have fallen into this snare before.  Recently I suffered a migraine and the first product I went for: The Name Brand.  After the headache subsided, I got to thinking, "I could have bought the generic for cheaper!"

The Facts: Generic products work just as well as the name brand and they can be significantly cheaper. Did you know that the FDA requires that generic drugs must go through the same rigorous process for approval as name brand medications? Generics must be the same as the name brand in their strength, dosage, safety, quality and in the way they work. The catch is that this only applies to medication regulated by the FDA. So there is some concern for some over the counter medications that may not be regulated by the FDA. All prescription medications, however, are regulated by the FDA. So you can be confident that when you buy that cheaper generic product it will work just as well as the name brand. There are some medications that require close monitoring of levels.  In these cases, such as with Synthroid, if you start out on a particular name brand, it’s recommended that you stick with that brand.  Make sure you speak with your pharmacist to determine if a med is available as a generic and if it’s okay for that med to be switched. It can be significantly cheaper than the name brand and provide you with the same efficacy. While you’re at it, check to see if your pharmacy has a $4 prescription plan for a 30-day supply.

SPLIT MEDICATION. Another idea to help you save money is to split medication when you can. Sometimes when medications are scored (line down the middle of the pill) they can be split. Say, for instance, your physician ordered 20 mg of a particular drug to take once a day for 30 days; thatʼs 30 pills. You can ask the physician to write for 40 mg of the drug and take one half pill daily. Thatʼs 15 pills that can be halved for a full 30 day supply. This may be a cheaper route depending on the medication.

Key things to remember when splitting medication:

  • The pills cannot be coated.
  • The pills cannot be extended or sustained released.
  • Capsules cannot be halved.
  • Pills should be cut using a pill cutter directly in half so that an equal amount of medication is available on both sides of the cut pill.
  • Make sure the medication is available in a higher strength to allow for cutting the medication in half.
  • Be sure to discuss options with your pharmacist first if you decide to split your pills.

COMBINATION PILLS AS SINGLE PILLS. This idea can be a little tricky and may only work for cash pay patients. Some pills are available as a combination (two pills in one) and may sometimes be prescribed as two separate generic pills. The 2 separate generics may be cheaper than the combination product.  You have to keep in mind that it may mean taking more pills more frequently.

COUPONS. offers free medication coupons (with extended expiration dates) for discounts on prescription medications.

No matter how you choose to save on prescriptions, always speak with your pharmacist first and discuss ways that may help you save. Keep in mind that your pharmacist is the medication expert, and using him or her as a resource for your prescription and OTC questions is always good medicine

This has been a guest post by Rashida from Elk Grove, CA
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