How To Check Drug Prices

One of my patients was in the office this weekend and she was so mad about the price she was charged for a medication I prescribed.  I was flabbergasted because it is a generic med, not brand, which usually means a less expensive drug.  That’s when I realized she didn’t know how to check drug prices before going to the pharmacy.

There is a website that gathers drug prices from different pharmacies and puts them at your fingertips, like Priceline does for airline tickets and hotel rooms.  This website is  There’s an app as well so this info is never farther than your phone! also provides information about drug coupons to decrease copay costs.  I try to make sure anyone who takes any brand-name medication knows about this website so they can choose their pharmacy based on the best medication price.

Even those who have good prescription coverage should consider using this app.  After all, drug costs paid by insurance companies are always passed on to subscribers.  Nothing is free, so reducing drug costs to insurance companies will help keep premiums down in the long term.

Here’s an example:  The prescription antibiotic Augmentin (generic amoxicillin / potassium clavulanate) is commonly used to treat sinus infections.  How much would it cost if you had no insurance?Depending on where you go, the price varies a bit.  What if you choose something that went generic recently?

Does generic really matter that much?  Well let’s look at one that I discuss with patients fairly regularly, the thyroid medication Synthroid.  Is it really that much more expensive to get the brand medication?  Here’s the generic, followed by the brand.

And what about a medication that’s not available as a generic?  Here’s the diabetes drug Januvia which has been around for awhile, but not long enough to be generic just yet.

Huge difference, right?  This is why I prescribe generic medications almost exclusively, and why insurance companies push back so hard on us for prescribing brand medications.  Drug prices are a huge part of our health care expenditure, and being aware of what your medications cost, asking for generic medications wherever possible, and choosing a pharmacy that has lower prices are all things each of us can do to keep health care costs down and insurance premiums more manageable.

Please download the GoodRx app and use it to choose your pharmacy.  Every little bit helps as far as cutting costs.  The meds are the same, your treatment will be as effective whether you pay $4 per month or $12 per month.  Multiplied by 300 million people in the US, that $8 per month difference really adds up.

QUESTION: Did you know about this website?  Will it change where you go to get your medications filled?


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