Lifestyle

Pharmacy choice definitely matters | Auburn's Dr. Petter

All pharmacies are the same, right? Wrong. The pharmacy you choose to routinely fill prescription medications can either save you money or end-up costing substantially more in the long run.

Several pharmacies notoriously overcharge customers. For example, the prescription nose spray Flonase (fluticasone propionate) is available in a generic, at a customer cost of $15. However, at certain pharmacies you may be charged as much as $94.

Recently, I gave a patient two generic prescriptions. I informed her that the cost for both medications should not exceed $8. To her shock and outrage, the pharmacy tried to charge her over $100.

Unfortunately, overpricing or price gauging is legal. There are no set national price rules pharmacies are required to abide by. Pharmacies are able to charge whatever they choose for a particular product, often to the customer’s disadvantage and expense. It is up to the consumer to beware of price differences amongst pharmacies.

Here a few tips for finding a value-conscious, consumer-friendly and fair pharmacy. Small, home-town pharmacies, like Peckinpaugh Drug’s and Summit Trading Co. Food & Drug are excellent. They routinely go above and beyond when it comes to customer service, by providing personal one-on-one attention, and over time thoroughly knowing a customer’s particular health issues and circumstances. Your pharmacist is a valuable member of your health care team. This consistent continuity of care is priceless.

Large chain pharmacies like Costco, Fred Meyer, Target, Walmart and Sam’s Club also are good choices, as they routinely help consumers save money.

For example, Walmart, Target and Fred Meyer offer more than 300 generic prescription medications at low cost ($4 for a 30-day supply, and $10 for a 90-day supply).

In addition, some pharmacies even go beyond this generic discount program. For loyal customers, there can be additional financial perks. If you are a Costco member and you lose your health insurance, it will give you a 10-percent discount on your medications. Moreover, you do not need to be a member of Costco to use its pharmacy.

In addition, if your brand-name prescription medications are filled at select large pharmacies, you may receive generic medications for less than $4, or even for free. Why? They want to retain your business and continue to fill your expensive brand-name medications.

My advice, choose your pharmacy wisely, as this one important selection could potentially save you lots of money up front and in the long run.

Dr. Linda Petter, of Auburn, is a weekly feature on KOMO News Radio (1000 AM & 97.7 FM) every Sunday, live at 7:45 a.m. She trained at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois, Carle Hospital. Petter is chief of the Department of Family Practice at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. Her second book, "Healthcare On a Budget", is available on Amazon.com, or visit the website, www.DocForAll.com.

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