Cutting your drug costs safely

Don't take health advice from a blog. Most physicians understand the need to economize. But they don't want to risk your life in the process.

PHRMA big orange busDespite the big orange bus, despite even Medicare Part D, millions of Americans are cutting their drug loads as the economic crisis deepens.

Doctors are worried. So are drug companies. Lipitor sales are down 13% in the last quarter.

This can be a real false economy. If you don't treat a controllable condition it becomes uncontrollable. You can wind up in the hospital. You can die.

Still, I'm like the rest of you. I'm always interested in cutting the cost of treating the hypertension and high cholesterol that are in my genetic make-up.

The easiest ways to economize are:

  • Shopping. Those $4/month plans are a real bargain.
  • Generics. This can cut your drug costs by two-thirds.
  • Supplements. Health supplements cost less than drugs, but be careful.

In my own case I tried ordering bigger doses and cutting pills in half, but the drug companies were on to that, and started making oblong pills.

My doctor finally let me switch from Lipitor to generic simvastatin. This turns a $30 co-pay into a $10 co-pay. At some stores you may be able to get it for just $4/month.

Some insurance plans are offering to mail you drugs, at a savings. I have resisted this. I trust my pharmacist. I know him by name. If you don't, consider it.

My pharmacist offered another idea, a timed-release niacin taken as a health supplement. Will it work as well as the $30/month Niaspan tablets I have been taking? Maybe if I take more of it.

Whatever your situation, of course, talk to your doctor first. Don't take health advice from a blog. Most physicians understand the need to economize. But they don't want to risk your life in the process.

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