$4 Generic Drugs: Too Good To Be True? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/13/07

$4 Generic Drugs: Too Good To Be True?

You may have been enticed by the new $4 drug plan promoted by several major retail chains. So, is it a big marketing scheme or the real deal in making your prescriptions more affordable.

The average price of a generic prescription is $28. For a brand name drug, the average price is $95. That's according to researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy. So, $4 prescriptions sound great, but they add the problem that only about 10 percent of generics are included in the $4 drug plan.

"Tricky thing about the list they say it is over 300 drugs, but if you really look at it it's only about 120 drugs or so," said Dr. Stefanie Ferreri, with the UNC School of Pharmacy.

"I have six drugs that I take, four of them you can't get generic," said Vera Hart, who considered the discount drug program.

"Alot of people are getting confused because people see it as a great deal, but what most people don't realize is most people are probably getting that deal anyway," said Dr.  Ferreri.  

She says that's because the $4 generics are mostly older ones, which are discounted by many plans anyway. The list seems longer than it is because several drugs are listed more than once, but with different doses.

Bottom line: Generic drugs are considered just as safe as brand name drugs, but it is safer to get all your prescriptions, generic or not, at the same pharmacy. That way you build a relationship with your pharmacist and he or she knows everything you are taking to protect against drug interactions.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association says you can cut costs, though by calling around and comparing prices because some pharmacists will match a price if you find it somewhere else cheaper. Some drug prices vary according to whether you buy it in a capsule of tablet.

So, for many reasons, it may not be worth it to drive somewhere else to get a $4 deal. The Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a trade association, says generic medicines account for 56 percent of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but only 13 percent of all dollars spent on prescription drugs.

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