Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cheap generic drugs can be hazardous to your wealth.

My insurance company took the one prescription drug I take regularly off of their formulary, doubling my co-pay. I wasn't exactly thrilled about going from a $20 a month medical expense to a $40 a month medical expense. Since the drug in question treats a condition that is unpleasant but not dangerous in any way, I tried going off my medication for a couple of months to see if maybe I'd reached a point where I no longer needed treatment. No such luck.

I had a routine check-up last week and brought up the possibility of switching to a cheaper medicine. There are some similar drugs available in generics, and my doctor agreed that there's no reason not to try one of them instead. If it doesn't alleviate my symptoms or causes nasty side effects, I can just call her and get a prescription for my old medication.

The new prescription is on Wal-Mart and Target's list of low cost generics so it's actually $1 less than my insurance co-pay for generics if I buy it there. My doctor told me this, but also warned me, "They're hoping that they'll get you in the store and you'll end up finding lots of other things to buy. It happened to me the first time I got a prescription at Target."

Boy was she right. Friday night I went into Wal-Mart for my prescription and perhaps some gum, and walked out with my prescription and $23.35 worth of other stuff. None of the items were exactly impulse buys since they were all things I'd been contemplating buying for a week or more, but I'm not proud of myself. I did stock up on a pantry staple on sale, but I also gave in to curiosity and decided to buy the supplies to try waxing my legs. In the future, I'll be able to call in ahead of time so I don't wind up wandering the store aimlessly for forty five minutes killing time while waiting for the pharmacy to fill my prescription. If that weren't an option, I'd seriously consider paying the extra dollar a month to stay out of the Supercenter and avoid temptation.


Mrs. Micah said...

I was I'll have to remember that when filling at Target and the like.

That One Caveman said...

I don't know why, but I never considered the motivation behind the cheap generic offers from those stores. It makes perfect sense now that you brought it up and I almost feel foolish for not seeing it myself. Fortunately, I've been blessed to be generally well and I don't require regular medication (outside of the OTC stuff I take for my migraines), so I guess it's excusable that I didn't see through this at first glance... (Ya, whatever I need to tell myself to feel better about it.) :-D

Amy said...

I feel for ya.

For what it's worth, Walgreens does 3 month refills for $12.99. I don't know how Wal-mart and target do 3 month stints, but if the generic works for you, it would cut down on the number of trips to the store. And my Walgreens has a drive-through, so you never have to step foot in the store.

E.C. said...

Thanks for the tip. If the generic seems to be working out well after the first couple of months, I'll have to check with Walgreens.