The GoodRx Prescription Savings Blog

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

How Switching Meds Could Save You More Than $2000 Per Year

by Elizabeth Davis on March 28, 2013 at 10:00 am

When it comes to saving on your prescriptions, sometimes the way to get the best price isn’t as straightforward as simply using a coupon or switching to a generic.

Recently, I visited a doctor to try and figure out why I was having headaches. It took months, but eventually I was diagnosed with migraines; then, I had to work with my doctor to find the right medication to manage the migraines.

Like many Americans, I have health insurance, but even with insurance, the cost of my drugs was giving me a headache. A single prescription for Axert (used for stopping overnight headaches) costs $350 – $400 for a pack of 12 tablets—with insurance!  At the time, Maxalt hadn’t yet gone generic, so a pack of 18 tablets would cost me $500 – $600. Another medication, Frova, was about $330 for 9 tablets.

Fortunately, my doctor was willing to try sumatriptan (generic Imitrex), and it worked for me after stepping up the dose. Before rizatriptan (generic Maxalt) was approved at the end of 2012, sumatriptan was the only real generic triptan option for migraine. My insurance co-pay was $10 per fill ($15 with a GoodRx coupon if your insurance doesn’t cover it), instead of over $300.

As my fellow migraine sufferers know, you fill every month whether you need to or not, just in case. Switching meds saved me almost $3,500 over a year, even with my insurance.

At GoodRx, we’ve just created a helpful list of drugs that can potentially be swapped out for much cheaper alternatives—sometimes saving you 90 percent or more. You can find some comparisons across a few classes of drugs below, and browse hundreds more by condition on GoodRx. As always, check with your doctor to see if the other options are right for you:

Migraines (Triptans)

If you’re taking . . .

  • Frova – Cash Price: $330 for a package of 9 tablets

Consider instead:

Zomig and Zomig ZMT (zolmitriptan) are also due to go generic this year, which should give you another lower-priced generic to choose from.

High Cholesterol (Statins)

If you’re taking . . .

  • Crestor – Cash Price: $180 per month

Consider instead:

Switching from Crestor to simvastatin, your savings would be over $175 per month or $2100 per year.

High Blood Pressure (ARBs)

If you’re taking . . .

  • Benicar – Cash Price: $110 per month

Consider instead:

Switching from Benicar to losartan, your savings would be over $100 per month or $1200 per year.

There are some cases where the reverse is true as well—you could be taking one of several expensive brands in a group where there’s one clear cost-saving option. For example:

Overactive Bladder (Muscarinic Agonists)

If you’re taking . . .

  • Toviaz – Cash Price: $175 per month
  • Vesicare – Cash Price: $200 per month
  • Enablex – Cash Price: $180 per month

Consider instead:

  • oxybutynin (generic Ditropan) at under $5 per month, for a savings of up to $200 per month or $2400 yearly.

Insomnia (GABA Agonists)

If you’re taking . . .

  • Lunesta – Cash Price: $230 per month
  • Edluar – Cash Price: $210 per month
  • Ambien – Cash Price: $250 per month

Consider instead:

  • zolpidem (generic Ambien) at under $10 per month, for a savings of up to $240 per month or $2880 yearly.

Of course, cost isn’t the only factor. Looking at drugs in the same class that treat the same condition can be a great jumping off point for a discussion with your doctor. It can take some trial and error to choose the prescription that’s right for you, particularly when you’re starting a long-term medication. Factors like different side-effect profiles and regular- and extended-release options can make a big difference in how effective a particular drug is for you, and whether you remember to take it as prescribed.

Be aware that even when a group of drugs works in the same way to treat the same conditions, there are cases where they may not be able to be substituted for one another—but stay informed, open a dialogue with your doctor and pharmacist, and you may be able to save big while still getting the medications you need.

With more choices, you can find the right medication to make both you and your wallet happy.

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