Thursday, July 31, 2014

Saving Money at the Drug Store

Looking for a simple way to save some money.  Stop buying brand name drugs.  The generic versions required by law to be identical to the more famous names.  Why spend extra money just on a name?  Hospitals save money by only providing generics, unless they have to.  Medicaid and Medicare save money by requiring generics if possible. If they can do it, so can you.  This is a not-so-secret strategy employed by doctors, pharmacists and nurses when they go to the drug store.

Let's look at an example from the Walgreen's website.  Pain is the number one reason people buy medicines.  They head to Walgreen's for some Advil.  You can buy a bottle of 200 Advil tablets for $15.99.  That comes out to about 8 cents per tablet.  Not a bad price if you think about it.

But Advil is just the brand name that Pfizer gives to the drug ibuprofen.  The pain reliever and fever reducer was developed in 1961 as an alternative to aspirin.  McNeil Consumer Healthcare also produces a version of ibuprofen known as Motrin.  All three names work the same, because all three are the same thing - ibuprofen.  As a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), ibuprofen interrupts the inflammation process (by blocking the COX enzyme) which reduces swelling and pain.  Any tablet that contains ibuprofen works exactly the same way.

So let's head back to the pain aisle of Walgreens.  They sell a bottle of Walgreen's ibuprofen in the generic form as well.  It's the same thing and works the same way, so how much.  A bottle of 1000 generic tablets costs $19.99 or 2 cents per tablet.  Advil (8 cents) is literally 4x more expensive that a product that does the exact same thing.  So why do people by the Advil instead of generic ibuprofen?  Mostly advertising and not understanding drug names.  I think there maybe some kind of placebo effect as well.  If I pay more for this name brand it should work better.  But it doesn't and Pfizer counts on the majority of people not to know such things.

This can save you a lot of money in the long run.  Assume you took 12 ibuprofen everyday for one year- which you shouldn't because you will probably end up with an ulcer.  Buying Advil will cost you $350 over that year.  The generic tables will come to an astounding total of $88.  It really adds up fast.  So save some money, buy generics!

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