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You can add to your savings while you wait for the federal government to lower prices

Uninsured people get few deals. Insurance companies negotiate discounts on drug prices. So do hospitals. Uninsured people pay full fare, fend for themselves. Here are fending tips that can save you significant money.

First: Get on the Internet and go to DestinationRX.com. Scroll to the bottom. Click on Press. You will see many articles full of good advice. Look at the Harvard Heart Letter's "7 ways to save money on prescription drugs." At DestinationRx, you can also compare the best U.S. prices for your medication, free of charge.

Caution: Many American online companies do not ask, as many Canadian companies do, what other medications you are taking. If you order online, you lose the local pharmacist advice. So make sure your doctor looks carefully for negative interactions with other drugs you take.

From the Harvard Heart Letter and other resources:

  • Use generics. Brand-name drugs do not significantly differ from generics, but generics are generally much cheaper. Your pharmacist can advise you.
  • Switch to a cheaper brand-name drug. Patented drugs do not have generics until the patent runs out. And the high-price drug is not always the best. Find out what other brand-name drugs are available for your condition. Rxaminer.com will search, free of charge, for cheaper brand-name alternatives. You can e-mail results to your doctor from the site or print them out for your next doctor visit.
  • Shop around for the best price for your drug. Online prices tend to be lower. Try DestinationRX.com. If you don't want to order from Canada, this site scans a dozen major online American pharmacies. If you want to buy from a local pharmacy, call around. You may be surprised at the local price differences.
  • Get a Golden Mountaineer Card. The Wise administration has added a prescription drug savings to that card. Average savings: 17 percent.
  • Check out discount programs offered by the pharmaceutical companies. Many pharmaceutical companies offer discount or free drug programs for older adults. At www.benefitscheckup.org, a site run by the National Council on Aging, you can easily find out if you qualify for more than 260 such programs. You may need help filling out the paperwork for these programs. Several drug companies have consolidated their application forms, but most have different forms and different rules, and the rules may change at any time. If you need help, contact your local senior center.
  • Split pills in half. You can save big if your doctor feels comfortable prescribing a double dose in tablet form. When you break the pill in half, you get the correct dose. A DestinationRX.com search shows that 30 tablets of 50 milligram Zoloft cost $71, and 30 tablets of 100 milligram Zoloft cost $71. You can find a "How to split a pill" guide in the Harvard Heart Letter referenced above.
  • Buy in bulk: Usually, the more pills you buy, the more you save. A DestinationRx.com search shows that 30 80 milligram tablets of Lipitor cost $3.14 a tablet. Ninety 80 milligram tablets of Lipitor cost $3 a tablet. Canadian bulk savings tend to be more.
  • Buy from Canada. FDA rules contain a controversial exemption for individual use. The FDA has never prosecuted an individual, but FDA officials discourage people from using the exemption. More information at unitedhealthalliance.org
  • Join a group. Some organizations, like AARP, offer you prescription drug savings.
  • Exercise and do other things that reduce your need for drugs. Shift to a healthier lifestyle. Lose weight, eat a healthier diet, exercise. If you need help, join a group like the YMCA or YWCA or join forces with a friend.
  • — Kate Long


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