Save big on the drugs you need

 Got prescriptions to fill? Experts will tell you every trick to cut your costs.

Coming up with the cash to cover prescription drugs and medical bills is the No. 1 money worry of Americans, beating out thinks like missed payments on big bills and even job loss, according to the Consumer Reports Index, a monthly national telephone poll of American adults.

To help you find more affordable prescription drugs, SopSmartMag teamed up with the medical experts at Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, who evaluate them for safety, effectiveness, and cost. They rely on the analysis of hundreds of studies so that patients and their doctors can find the medication that works best and costs less based on independent and unbiased scientific evidence. Here’s the result of their work: six great ways to save:

  • Go generic. They’re often good first choices, though the names of these less-expensive drugs are often unpronounceable (they’re a shortened version of the active ingredient’s chemical name). you can save as much as 95 percent off the brand-name price tag. Generics are required to have the same active ingredients and action as the brand names, and the Food and Drug Administration regulates them Justas it does brand-name drugs.
  • Order online. Last year experts shopped for four expensive brand-name drugs and found the best prices online, at Healthwarehouse.com, Familymeds.com, Costco.com, and Drugstore.com. Walmart (the store) was next, followed by independent drugstores. But watch out: Most online pharmacies aren’t legit. So stick with the sits experts recommend or retailer websites that have walk-in stores. And order only from within the U.S.; you can’t be sure of what you’re getting from other countries.
  • Consider Mail Order. These services can save you money, too. Check with your human-resources department about availability.
  • Sign up for money-saving store programs. Most big drugstore chains and mass retailers offer discount programs that sell hundreds of generic meds for $4 a month or less.
  • Ask Mom-And-Pop Stores for a price cut. Like the big chains, independent drugstores may have their own discount programs or match a chain’s prices.
  • Buy a pill splitter.

Split it Up!

Cutting meds in half can be like buying two doses for the price of one. Here’s how to do it right.

  • Do get the OK from your doctor or pharmacist first. Not all drugs are safe for splitting.
  • Don’t split time-released or long-lasting pills, combo drugs, pills that require critical daily blood levels (such as birth-control pills and blood thinners, capsules, or coated pills.
  • Do use a pill splitter. You can find one for $3 to $10. Some insurance plans even given them away.
  • Don’t split pills in advance because it increases exposure to heat, moisture, and air. Cut one at a time and take the two halves one after the other so that any deviation in the size of one is compensated for with the next dose.

Drugs you can cut

Escitalopram (Lexapro) – for depression
Split 20-milligram pills
Save $59 / month

Irbesartan (Avapro) – for high blood pressure
Split 300-milligram pills
Save $40/month

Rosuvastatin (Crestor) – for high cholesterol
Split 20-milligram pills
Save $74/month