NCPA To Families USA: Why Pay Top Dollar?

Families USA Report Neglects Savings From Common Shopping Techniques

DALLAS (July 09, 2003) -- Contrary to a report on prescription drug prices released today by Families USA, seniors and other patients can lower the cost of prescription drugs by as much as 90 percent just by using shopping techniques that are commonplace in any market other than health care, according to a recent report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

"The Families USA findings are based on brand name prescription drug prices," said NCPA Research Manager Devon Herrick, author of the study. "The report admits that only 30 percent of the top 50 prescription drugs purchased by seniors are generics, which have only slightly risen in price. The remaining 70 percent are responsible for most price increases cited in the study."

For example, seniors can save substantially on one of the most often prescribed drugs, Prilosec:

  • Comparison shopping saves 18 percent. 
  • The generic, Omeprazole, costs 22 percent less. 
  • This fall, Omeprazole will become an over-the-counter (OTC) medication - a savings of 75 percent.

Most physicians admit Prilosec is necessary only for the most serious cases, and the majority of patients could be treated with drugs like Zantac or Pepcid - a savings of 63 to 95 percent. Herrick said the Families USA report also ignores several other shopping techniques that allow consumers to reduce drug prices significantly:

  • Drug prices vary considerably among pharmacies. Shopping can save up to 10 percent on brand name drugs and more than 80 percent on generic drugs.
  • Many medications cost the same regardless of dosage. In many cases, seniors can save between 30 and 50 percent by purchasing double the dosage and splitting pills in half. Pharmacies will even split pills for patients.

Several other shopping techniques can save seniors even more money on prescription drugs, including buying generic or OTC medications, buying prescription drugs over the Internet or through mail order.