Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Accessing Affordable, Effective and Safe Medications

Access to the appropriate medically necessary medication has been challenging for a number of reasons in our current healthcare system. If you are having difficulty accessing your prescribed medications you may be interested in the following resources:  Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a clearinghouse to network with drug companies that have patient assistance programs to provide medication for free to individuals that meet income requirements.  Discount prices to individuals that meet certain income requirements.
A number of different companies provide discount cards for medications. Physicians are mailed these and they are on the Internet. 

Healthcare Alliance:  

Half Off: 

National Prescription Savings Network: 

Patient Savings Alliance:  

Avia Partners: 

Go to the drug company website for the medication prescribed and access discount coupons. These websites are often www.(name of the drug).com  Type in the name of the drug and your zip code and compare the prices in different drug stores and discount coupons can be printed.

Costco has a drug pricing tool, but it is difficult to find it on their website. They charge 3% above wholesale, but do not carry every medication. It is useful as a price guide. You do not have to be a member to use the pharmacy.

In general, outlet stores and supermarkets are cheaper than pharmacy chains and use the pharmacy as a loss leader to draw customers into the store. Don't waste a lot of time with insurance company approval barriers or manipulations to use their 90 day prescriptions or mail order pharmacies for a generic medication in which the cash price is less or close to the insurance company copay.

Be advised that some generics are inequivalent to brand name drugs. Demand generic brands that are known to be equivalent with that particular medication and avoid generic brands that known to be inequivalent.

Use caution when using Internet and foreign pharmacies. Many "Canadian Pharmacies" are not in Canada and there are risks of substandard, fraudulent and potentially toxic medications.

A knowledgeable pharmacist is a pivotal part of your healthcare. This is most commonly acquired at a local pharmacy that provides personalized attention. Also independent pharmacies have greater access to more wholesalers and greater flexibility to order the brand of the generic that is more effective. Often it is better to pay a little more at a pharmacy that provides this service.

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