Friday, August 31, 2012

Prescripton drugs and their cost

One of the benefits of being a frugal person is that I am always looking for a cheaper costs on everything.  I rarely just accept that the price I am told is the final price. I've learned quite a bit about prescription pricing in the past year, especially in the past month.

You know those commercials you always see on TV for prescription medications? Well, I've always kind of noticed at the end where the manufacturer states "if you have trouble paying for your prescription.....etc.".  When my husband first went on Crestor for his cholesterol last year the price was $76. His insurance didn't cover brand name drugs.  This was the price for just 15 pills! He cuts them in half for 5 mg per day per dr.'s dosage for him.  I got online and looked up Crestor's website and found where I could get the first month free and then get a "Crestor savings card" where Crestor would pay up to $50 each month for a year. While over the past 10 months it's gone up to $82 in total, but I've been paying $32 per month.  I was very happy with a $600+ savings for a year!

Now add in his first try at treating Fibromyalgia with Cymbalta and I went to their website to see if they have something similar to what Crestor offers. I couldn't find anything but I noticed a link to the actual manufacturer and from there found a patient assistance link. There were a few plans offered, depending on your situation. Looking into the criteria it appeared we qualified for the free medication, based on our income and the fact that DH does not have prescription coverage. The doctor had given him samples to try, so at least we weren't out any money while he tried this medication out. It turned out not to work for him and then the doctor put him on Lyrica, which is manufactured by Pfizer.

Then I thought - who is the manufacturer for Crestor? Maybe we qualify under a similar plan with them. It was Astra Zeneca and yes, they basically offered the same plans. A family of 4, making less than $70,000 a year (it might have been $90,000) and no prescription coverage on Dh's insurance plan was the criteria. I had to fax in some documentation - my recent pay stub and last years tax return, along with some doctor info and the doctor had to fax in a prescription for it. Astra Zeneca was quite good about calling me and following up with what was still needed to process. I got a voicemail today that all was processed and the first month's medicine is on it's way in the mail! Free!

The Lyrica manufacturer, Pfizer, offers the same type of plan to cover the meds at no charge. I have all the paperwork filled out and ready to take with us to Dh's doctor's appointment next Friday. There is one page the doctor needs to fill out, along with sending an actual prescription for him. If it turns out that DH will stay on the Lyrica, this will save me SO MUCH money. This is a very expensive drug. So far I have filled a 2 week prescription to try it that cost me $96, then the doctor prescribed it for another full month - that cost me $204.  If he stays on it now, his dosage will be doubled, so I am anticipating a $400 per month cost. Ouch! Kind of hard to do on one income, that's for sure. I was really not sure how I was going to afford it.

Now that we easily qualified for the Crestor/Astra Zeneca meds at no charge, I'm sure they Lyrica/Pfizer will be just as easy and will be covered too.  I would never have dreamed we would qualify for free meds. I was just hoping for a discount.  It pays to check into things and not just accept that there aren't other options available.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! HUGE savings!! I take cymbalta (for my chronic back/leg pain) and it's expensive - I think the last Rx I picked up for a 90-day supply was close to $500! YIKES! Unfortunately we don't qualify for any assistance, but thankfully we can afford it. Not sure how long I'll be on it, but told the husband I'd like to ask the doctor to let me go off of it to see how I feel (I mean how do you REALLY know how you feel when you are drugged up?). That was definitely worth your looking into and doing the bit of paperwork!
    Have a great weekend!