The Generic Drug Rip-Off

are you being ripped-off when buying generic medicine?David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times has just published a shocking exposure of how the general public is just about being extorted when fulfilling prescriptions with generic drugs.

Keep in mind that when you choose generic medicine, it is not inherently inferior to the big brand version: there are strict standards that apply to all treatments – a home-brand or generic drug is effectively equivalent to the big brand.

Pharmaceutical companies spend many millions on the research and development of new drugs, and when approved for use they are allowed a specified period of time where the drug is effectively copyrighted.

When this period expires, generic versions can be made to the same formula without breaching the developing pharmaceutical company’s rights.

So how¬† can the price of the generic versions vary so much? According to David Lazarus’ article (please see the link below), a 90-day supply of a Zocor replacement that costs just $9.99 at Costco is a staggering $122.99 at CVS. The price was still more than $75 even at Target!

Now come on! Some variation in pricing is to be expected, how the heck can the difference be so great?

To make matters worse, shopping around to get the best price is made extremely difficult if you are going to use insurance to cover any part of the bill. Because then you actually have to present a valid prescription and fill it to find out what it is going to cost you!

I recommend you read the whole article if you or anyone close to you uses prescription medicine – let’s face it, that’s pretty much most of us. You can find it here.

Also note that you do not need to be a Costco member to fill your prescriptions there: you can find their pharmacy page here.

Philip

6 Comments

  1. This is certainly an eye opener for me – and I’m definitely going to get a Costco membership asap! Generic drugs are generally cheaper than prescription, and I understood why, but I didn’t realize how much variation there was in the markup that different pharmacies cost. I was just fine sticking with my regular pharmacist over Walmart when I found out that some of my meds were a few dollars more, because some of my medicine was cheaper at the local pharmacy, not to mention the service was much better. Eventually I stopped looking – this is a great reminder to keep comparison shopping and not get lazy!

  2. Wow that really is an eye opener.. The range of prices among different places is ridiculous.. Just shows that you really have to do your research!

  3. Profiting from the misery of others. Disgusting. Why doesn’t our system respect the health of it’s citizens? This article is infuriating.

  4. I have worked in prescription benefit management and saw that all the time. I am very fortunate to have insurance.
    When you have insurance the amount is set….the store gets what the insurance will pay. But if you don’t have insurance it is a real benefit to shop around.

  5. I am so lucky to come from a family with good genes! I’m utterly disgusted by what pharmaceutical companies are doing. Not to mention that when you ask your pharmacist what do they recommend for you, they will recommend the most expensive product there is! When generic medicine is right there, available.

    • It’s funny, last time I filled a prescription the pharmacist asked me if I would prefer to take a cheaper generic brand. I was quite surprised. Maybe there is a bigger mark-up on generic medicine (or maybe I’m just getting too cynical).

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