I-Team finds major price differences in medications - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

I-Team finds major price differences in medications

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

One in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer.  Fighting it can be a long and expensive struggle. 

Now the 13abc I-Team is looking into the cost of buying drugs necessary to fight it and an enormous price discrepancy. 

While someone you know pays one price for life-saving medication, you might be stuck shelling out much more.  That difference adds up quickly, often involving hundreds of dollars for every prescription. 

Our I-Team investigation discovered you can save plenty just by going to the right place.           

One by one we called 6 Toledo pharmacies to price the generic form of Arimidex, a common drug for breast cancer patients.    

"There are a lot of people that I know that are going through the same journey that I did that would not be able to afford those kinds of prices," said Kris Lahote, a cancer survivor. 

Lahote is now cancer free after three years.  She's one of the lucky ones with insurance.  But she knows without it the prices can be all over the place. 

The 13abc I-Team priced big box stores and small locally owned pharmacies.  We asked about a 30 pill supply of Arimidex (a price without insurance).  You might think bigger stores, more volume equals lower prices but that did not necessarily turn out to be the case.

  Generic Brand Name
Walgreens $314.99 $547.99
Rite Aid $299.99 $557.99
Erie Drug $99.75 $499.50
Kroger $97.59 $586.89
Meijer $67.48 $491.07
Monroe Pharmacy $39.99 $524.99
     

Monroe Pharmacy, near Monroe and Douglas in West Toledo turned out to have the lowest price.  It's a pharmacy that's been family owned since 1960.

"In the process you pay attention and you try to be as fair as you can be with the public.  They're aware of that and they know that," said Monroe Pharmacy owner Steven Dolin.  "I think it's a matter of paying attention.  You care about the public."

"The last thing we want to do as pharmacists is to see the patient walk away without being able to get the medicine they need," said doctor Steven Martin, the chairman of the Pharmacy Department at the University of Toledo Medical Center.

Dr. Martin says price isn't the only thing people should be concerned with.  

"I think it's important though that they find a pharmacy that they're comfortable with, where they get good service and that they try to purchase all their medications there.  That way the pharmacists can understand all the medications they're on," said Dr. Martin.   

"You see them, you look at them and you know it's a personal thing between us and them to be honest," said Dolin.  

"To have them have to worry about the finances, it makes it more difficult to go through the recovery.  You've always got that in the back of your mind," said Lahote. 

The two highest prices were Walgreens and Rite Aid.  The I-team reached out to both stores to get a comment of their prices.  Here are their statements: 

Walgreens: 

Walgreens offers the generic version of Arimidex in its Prescription Savings Club for $15 (30 quantity) and $30 (90 quantity). The club costs $20 for an individual and $35 for families and pets are included.  

As for pricing in general, we urge people to find one pharmacy that offers the best value in terms of pricing, convenience, service and accessibility.

In addition to convenient locations and hours, it's important to consider the level of service a drugstore provides. Our services include online pharmacy access, drive-thru service, automated refills, prescription labels available in 14 languages and more 24-hour locations than all drugstore chains combined. Our pharmacy network also allows patients to go to any Walgreens nationwide to refill their prescriptions.

More than 97 percent of our patients purchase their prescriptions through some form of prescription insurance coverage or our Prescription Savings Club.

More than 2 million people take advantage of our Prescription Savings Club, which offers more than 400 value priced generic medications for as little as a dollar a week. The program also offers deep discounts on more than 8,000 brand name and all generic medications and is an attractive option for patients without health insurance or for patients who take medications that are not covered by their health plans.                                                                         

Drug prices for the less than 3 percent of patients who pay cash for all their prescriptions are based on the drug manufacturer's price, other operational factors and local competition.

Using one pharmacy allows pharmacists to better monitor patients' medications and avoid potential drug interactions. 

Rite Aid: 

Rite Aid goes to great lengths to make sure that we are competitively priced with our chain drugstore competitors. We evaluate our prices whenever we get feedback from customers, associates, or the media, which is what we are doing with the example you brought to us. Many factors go into the price we charge for a drug such as the cost of a location, utilities, the overhead to operate the pharmacy and the professional services that the pharmacist provides. Just like a doctor, the pharmacist is there to provide expert advice and answer questions about patients' medications.

You may also be interested in learning more about our free Rx Savings Program, which is available to all patients but is especially beneficial to those who are uninsured or underinsured. By signing up, customers get access to more than 400 generic medications at $9.99 for a 30-day supply or $15.99 for a 90-day supply for each prescription and savings of up to 15% on thousands of generic and brand name prescriptions including Arimidex. Visit the "Rx Savings Program link" at www.riteaid.com for more details.

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