Generic Drug Pricing

I never knew this until I saw it here. I had learned that Safeway’s $4 deals are often cheaper than my insurance negotiated price, for both me and the pharmacy since they don’t have to deal with insurance paperwork.


Cash Can Be Cheaper Than Insurance For Prescriptions
Generic Prescription Drug Costs Vary Widely Across Stores
By Dayle Cedars, 7NEWS Reporter

DENVER — Sometimes paying cash for prescriptions can be cheaper than using your insurance.

That’s what Denver resident Gaylene Garbizo discovered recently.

Garbizo knows a thing or two about paying for prescription drugs — both her aging parents take several.

“Fortunately, I am savvy on my mother’s and father’s behalf,” said Garbizo.

So she knew pretty quickly that something wasn’t right when she went to fill her mother’s Alzheimer’s medication and saw the cost.

“It was $276,” said Garbizo.

The prescription was for the generic medication of Aricept. She was trying to fill it at the Rite Aid store in Cherry Creek by the mall.

Garbizo said when she went to work later that day she started searching the cost of the drug online. That’s when she said she almost went into shock when she discovered she could get the same medication for about $15 at Costco.

7NEWS reporter Dayle Cedars asked her how she reacted when she learned of the difference in cost.

“(I was) somewhere between livid and my heart just really broke for those people that don’t have an advocate on their behalf,” said Garbizo.

The $15 cost she found was Costco’s non-member price. She said it was around $8 for members. Non-members can use Costco’s pharmacy, but not other parts of the warehouse.

“We price our prescriptions off of the cost of the medication, versus taking a discount off of the brand name medication,” said Kally Haag, pharmacist at the Costco in Arvada.

Haag said many drug stores give customers 20 percent off the brand name cost on generics.

“(If) a medication costs $100, (another store) would give a 20 percent discount off the brand name (so it would) charge $80 for the generic,” said Haag.

However, Costco base its cost on the actual cost of the generic.

A spokeswoman for Rite Aid wouldn’t discuss how it sets its prescription prices, other than to say, “It’s proprietary.”

The store does offer 400 generic medicines at a flat rate of $8.99 or $15.99 based on a 30 or 90 day prescription. Sometimes that cost can be cheaper than what a person would pay with insurance.

Haag said it’s the same for her customers.

“Say their co-pay is $15 for 30 days, but our cost is $9.99 for 100 days,” said Haag. “We will let them know what their cheapest option is.”

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1 Comment

  1. Annie R2P

     /  November 10, 2011

    This is also true of Walmart’s $4 generic program. Though Walmart is my least favorite store, I have given this info to people at work. Walmart even has the full list on their website. I suppose that Costco and Safeway might have a list of their generics and what they charge for them on their websites too.

    The cost of brand name prescription medications is one of the things that continues to push the costs of medical insurance up. If consumers were savier and insisted on generic medications and not the latest brand names that they see advertised on television everyone would save money. Those commercials aren’t free.

    Further, lots of brand name medications only have minute differences in the chemical compounds between their drug and generics that have been on the market for years. There is rarely any evidence that the newer, more expensive, brand name drug actually relieves symptoms any better than the generic medications.

    Oh well, I could go on and on.

    I have one brand name – non formulary medication that I haven’t been able to find anything cheaper/generic for symptom relief. But for every thing that I can use generic for, I sure do. I’m not made of money after all. 🙂


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