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New report: prescription drug prices can vary widely

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You’ve probably heard that it pays to shop around.

Well according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, that might be especially true when it comes to generic drug prices.

Consumer Reports found that five of the best-selling generic alternatives to prescription drugs in the United States vary in price by a sizeable 447 percent.

For example, a one-month supply of montelukast, the generic version of Singulair, costs only $27 at Costco, yet it costs a much heftier $165 at CVS.

The survey showed this to be consistent with Costco’s least expensive prices overall and CVS most expensive prices. Independent retailers and grocery stores sometimes offered prices lower than any other retailer, but according to Consumer Reports, prices ranged significantly from place to place.

Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., Ph.D., professor and head of the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health System, told Consumer Reports that a potential factor in this might be the approach of businesses and how they view their pharmacies.

“Big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart use the pharmacy as a traffic builder for their stores, whereas traditional chain stores, such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, make the majority of their revenue and profits from the pharmacy,” said Schondelmeyer.

Interested in discovering how generic Plavix, Lipitor, Lexapro, and Actos measured up?

Read the full results of the study on Consumer Reports.

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