How to cut down prescription drug costs

(WXYZ) - If you've ever had to pay for a prescription out of your own pocket,you know they can cost hundreds of dollars a month.

Dr. Madelyn Butler says her patients often ask if there's anything they can do to cut down on the cost of medications.

"I think price is always a concern," says Dr. Butler. 

We looked at the top four medications prescribed for women, according to a report by IMS Gealth. At the top of the list is osteoporosis drug Alendronate , also known as Fosamax . It's prescribed 13 million times a year.

We also looked at birth control pill Loestrin, menopause drug Estradiol and Medroxyprogestrone, used for menstrual issues. We compared prices at CVS, Target, Walgreens, Publix, Costco, and Walmart.

We found that where you get your pills makes a big difference.

Overall, Costco had the lowest prices. A month's supply of the four drugs cost $38.  The same four drugs cost $147 at Walgreens.

"I will tell patients to call around, to get quotes, to get three different quotes especially the self-pay patients," said Dr. Butler. 

Walmart and Publix also offered lower prices. CVS and Target  tended to be more expensive.

That's why in 2006 the Michigan Department of Community Health launched  http://michigandrugprices.com/ . On the site you can search the 150 most commonly prescribed drugs in Michigan to find the lowest priced pharmacy in your area.

Just be aware that prices are consistently changing and participating pharmacies update their prices. According to the website, the most variation in cost came from Alendronate.

Our partners at Consumer Reports say the lesson is to shop around.

WATCH THE FULL REPORT IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE. 

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