The GoodRx Prescription Savings Blog

The latest updates on prescription drugs and ways to save from the GoodRx medical team

Why Are My Eye Drops so Expensive?

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on March 13, 2018 at 11:59 am

The most frequently performed outpatient surgery in the United States is cataract surgery. After your cataract procedure, your doctor will prescribe several eye drops with the goal of suppressing inflammation and improving pain. Whether after a cataract or Lasik procedure, or if prescribed for another reason, these drops may cost you an arm and a leg. Here is what you need to know.

Antibiotic eye drops

There are some good affordable generic options now for antibiotic eye drops. While Besivance is an expensive brand name antibiotic eye drop still prescribed, there are cheaper antibiotic eye drops available:

While some eye doctors like the newer brand antibiotic eye drops because they believe there is less antibiotic resistance to the newer drops, many have shifted over to generic options with better cost and higher compliance.

Steroid eye drops

These are given to reduce inflammation after cataract surgery, and this is where the brand name eye drops are going to cost you. Lotemax, Alrex, and Durezol are expensive drops often prescribed. More reasonable priced brand name steroid eye drops are Vexol and Maxidex, but there is a good cheaper option:

  • Prednisolone acetate 1% (Pred-Forte/OmniPred). Remember that steroid eye drops vary in their potency, so prednisolone drops are used 4-5 times a day, while some other drops are more potent and are used twice a day.

NSAID eye drops

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) eye drops can help to reduce swelling, pain, and light sensitivity after cataract surgery. So, adding it to a regimen with steroid eye drops may be better, but it may cost you. Prolensa, Nevanac, and Ilevro are newer expensive options. Good generic options include:

If cost is an issue, ask about the generic NSAID options, but keep in mind that they reportedly sting more and need to be used several times a day as opposed to once daily.

Bottom line? Shop around for generic options and check out prices on GoodRx. Otherwise, these drops are going to cost you.

Dr O.

Prescriptions for Antivirals Drop Off: GoodRx Monthly Report

by Tori Marsh on March 12, 2018 at 1:39 pm

After peaking in January, antiviral prescriptions dropped off in February. Though prescription fills remain at an elevated level as the flu continues to ravage the country, data from the GoodRx Index reveals that the worst of the flu season is over, resembling data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The GoodRx Index also showed other drug trends in February:

  • The number of prescription fills are down by 16%, a typical seasonal variation.
  • Prices for generic medications continued to increase.
  • Average cash prices for a 30-day supply of Estradiol, a menopause drug, increased by 11%.

What do all of these numbers mean?

Prices in the GoodRx Index represent the list price at the pharmacy, also known as the ‘usual and customary’ price. While a majority of people pay for their prescriptions with insurance and are shielded from paying this ‘list price,’ more Americans every day are forced to pay out-of-pocket because of high deductibles, supply limits, or formulary exclusions. Additionally, an upward trend in list price indicates higher prices for both consumers and insurers, even if some insured people won’t be on the hook for the full price.

The Index is based on a nationally representative sample of prescription claims across the U.S.

Antiviral prescriptions

During the worst flu epidemic in years, prescription fills for popular antivirals medications like Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza, and azithromycin dropped in February.

In January, the GoodRx Index revealed that national prescription fills for Tamiflu (oseltamivir) were up by more than 5 times since last year. Some states in the south and midwest were hit especially hard, seeing as much as 14 times more prescription fills for Tamiflu compared to last year.

This upward trend has slackened in recent weeks, as 25% fewer prescriptions were filled for antiviral medications in February compared to January. Additionally, fills for benzonatate, used for cough, are down by almost 40%, and fills for azithromycin, used to treat viral cold and flu infections, are down by 17%. This pattern resembles data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating a decline in flu-related hospitalizations and outpatient visits since late January.

Generics remain expensive

There’s been a lot of talk concerning generic pricing recently, and rightfully so. Generic drugs comprise 90% of the prescriptions Americans take, with millions of Americans depending on generics for affordable treatment, but prices have been steadily increasing. Over the past couple of months, cash prices for generic medications have increased by 7.5%, and that trend remained through February.

February’s big movers

Drug prices constantly fluctuate, changing incrementally month over month. One noteworthy price change in February occurred with Estradiol, a popular generic hormone used to treat menopause symptoms and prevent osteoporosis. Prices climbed by over 11% since January, rising from $78.93 to $88.44. This price increase is nothing new – back in 2013, the average cash price for a 30-day supply of Estradiol was a mere $26.

The most popular drugs in February 2018

Every month, GoodRx tracks the most popular drugs prescribed in the U.S., comparing total prescriptions written and filled for all forms of the medications. This analysis is based on a representative sample of prescriptions filled at U.S. pharmacies across the 50 states. The result is a top 10 list of the most prescribed drugs in the United States.

  1. Atorvastatin
  2. Levothyroxine
  3. Lisinopril
  4. Hydrocodone/acetaminophen
  5. Amlodipine
  6. Ventolin
  7. Amoxicillin
  8. Omeprazole
  9. Prednisone
  10. Ibuprofen

Some other drug news from February

  • Last year Walgreens purchased over 1,900 Rite Aid Stores, and in February, these stores started to switch over to the Walgreens family. Learn more about how this may affect you here.
  • GoodRx data revealed when the most romantic time of year is. Read more here. Hint – it’s not Valentines Day
  • A treatment was approved in Japan that can beat the flu virus in just one day. It’s still a couple years out from being available in the U.S., but you can read about it here.
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals discontinued Sumavel for migraines. You can read about options to replace Sumavel here.
  • People with a high deductible shared their stories about using GoodRx. Read those here.

Here’s Why Doctors Use GoodRx With Their Patients

by Katie Mui on March 7, 2018 at 3:54 pm

You prescribe your patients medicine to help them get better. Can you help them understand drug costs, too? With GoodRx, the answer is yes.

Patients look to their doctors and health professionals for answers about their health, but as health insurance and prescription pricing standards shift over time, patients are increasingly seeking advice on the cost of their drug as well.   

It’s hard for anybody to know everything about drug pricing, let alone what any medication might cost at the pharmacy. GoodRx is here to bridge that gap by giving doctors drug price info so they can advise their patients with confidence and accuracy.

How does GoodRx help physicians?

  1. Better adherence = better outcomes. If a patient can’t afford their medication, they are less likely to stay on their treatment course which will ultimately hurt their health even more. As a physician, you can encourage positive outcomes by ensuring patients have access to low drug prices and savings.
  2. Better patient satisfaction. Patients feel the impact of rising prescription costs every day. Tools like GoodRx can help patients feel empowered and knowledgeable about their health choices, and build trust between doctor and patient.
  3. Dedicated customer support. GoodRx offers real-time support (online help center or call 888-799-2553) to anyone who needs help checking their drug costs or getting their prescription filled. We have a large team of patient advocates trained to help, and physicians can offer patients these services through GoodRx for free.
  4. Saving time and money for the practice. Medical practices save time by having all the information they need in one place – be it the GoodRx physician mobile app, EHR integrations, or the GoodRx website. In fact, a dermatologist submitted a cost analysis study to JAAD, saying “my office has needed to hire one less office staff member and that I save about 1-2 hours of my time per week.”

GoodRx currently partners with about 200,000 medical practices to offer value-add services and help physicians take better care of their patients. And we often see this in action online, too:

Dr. Shane on Twitter

@RosenthalHealth Airduo generic form of advaire available at Walgreens with GoodRx for $50. I have a lot patients using it.

Joel Topf, MD FACP on Twitter

@RossNesbit @hswapnil @NephRodby @KatieKwonMD @medrants @S_brimble Tell your patients to use GoodRx. Ten-fold price spread.

Samantha S., RN, BSN on Twitter

@webbbieone @CateIynnLoweII Love that app! Good ol UHG doesn’t cover mine, I tell my old folks how to use it all the time. Once helped a lady with an antibiotic not covered by Medicare that was around $280, and goodrx brought it down to $85ish. Still high but WAY better!

The bottom line is, doctors, nurses, and other providers are trusted advisors when it comes to managing their patients’ health – and that often includes making sense of drug pricing. GoodRx is essentially a free prescription savings adherence tool for medical practices.

Want to get started? Request a free Doctor Kit, which comes with printed materials for your office, like brochures and counter cards.

You can also read more about the benefits physicians get from helping patients reduce their prescription costs in this recent interview. 

Qvar for Asthma Gets a Makeover

by Roni Shye on March 5, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Asthma is a breathing problem in which a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow, and produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe. Inhaled asthma medications have greatly improved throughout the past decade, and a popular asthma medication Qvar is getting a makeover.    

Qvar will now be available in an easy-to-use device known as Qvar RediHaler.

Will Qvar RediHaler replace Qvar?

Yes. Teva Pharmaceuticals has discontinued sales of the previously available Qvar formulation.

Are there any advantages to the new Qvar RediHaler?

Yes, there are advantages to the new RediHaler, like:

  • You will not need to shake or prime the RediHaler
  • The RediHaler has a spacer-free design
  • There is a built-in dose-counter on the back

Yes. Qvar RediHaler is the first and only breath-actuated aerosol inhaled corticosteroid in the United States, which means that it waits for you to breathe in before it releases the medicine.

Studies show that correct inhaler technique can reduce the number of asthma attacks. With Qvar RediHaler there is no priming and no canister to press and it’s therefore designed to help eliminate the need for hand-breath coordination.

How is my dose of Qvar RediHaler determined?

The recommended starting dosage of Qvar RediHaler is based on previous asthma therapy and disease severity, including consideration of your current control of asthma symptoms and risk of future exacerbation. Your doctor will determine which strength of Qvar RediHaler is right for you as the recommended starting dosage is typically 40 to 80 mcg twice daily, approximately 12 hours apart.

It may take 3 to 4 weeks after starting Qvar RediHaler to feel the benefits, although some may notice a change in asthma symptoms within 24 hours.

What are the most common side effects associated with Qvar RediHaler?

Side effects include:

  • Yeast infection in the mouth (also known as thrush)
  • Cold symptoms
  • Pain or swelling in the throat or nose
  • Sinus irritation
  • Hay fever

Is there anything important a patient should know about Qvar RediHaler?

Yes. The following are some important tips when using Qvar RediHaler:

  • After inhaling medication make sure to rinse your mouth out with water and spit in order to prevent thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth.
  •  Qvar RediHaler is a maintenance inhaler and should not be used during an asthma attack.
  •  Qvar RediHaler is to be used twice daily in order to prevent asthma attacks before they happen!
  • Even if your breathing feels better you need to consistently use your Qvar RediHaler according to how your doctor has prescribed it.

How can I save on Qvar RediHaler?

Eligible commercially insured patients may pay as little as $15 per month for Qvar RediHaler. Make sure to read the fine print as maximum reimbursement limits apply and patient out-of-pocket expenses may vary.

For more information on Qvar RediHaler, see the manufacturer site here, or the press release here.

Here’s Why People Use GoodRx Even With A High Deductible

by Katie Mui on March 1, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Recently, we’ve been noticing GoodRx users sharing their stories of high deductibles with us online:

So what’s going on? Sometimes, having a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) makes sense, like when you’re planning on having an expensive procedure that will help you reach the deductible (provided that you have enough saved to pay for it in the first place). An HDHP is also a good option if you’re pretty healthy and don’t typically have any medical expenses throughout the year. Most HDHPs come with lower monthly premiums, so in this case, you’ll be paying much less than traditional co-pay plans overall.

The reality is, though, that Americans have less and less say over what sort of health insurance they can get through their employers. Many employers will now only provide one health insurance option – an HDHP. According to the CDC, 39.3% of adults with employment-based insurance in 2016 had HDHPs, up a whopping 13% in 2011. 

The consequences of being stuck with an HDHP you can’t afford is obvious. You’re responsible for footing all your medical expenses yourself until you reach that high deductible (usually at least $1,300/year for yourself and $2,600/year for your family) – and so you don’t. In 2016, 4.2% more people on HDHPs than traditional plans said they had a harder time paying medical bills on time, and 4% more people on HDHPs decided against or delayed medical care, including getting their prescriptions filled, due to cost.

As Monica says above, always do your research when you’re unsure of your health insurance plan and whether you’re getting the best bang for your buck. GoodRx can often help you save money when the price of your medications is too costly with your insurance. You can compare GoodRx prices on our website or with our mobile app

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