Saving: Lowest prices on prescription drugs

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Consumer Reports had its shoppers check out prices for prescription drugs at almost 200 pharmacies and the results are pretty surprising. (WPVI)

People who regularly take a prescription medication spend an average of more than $700 a year for drugs.

To help you keep more of that money in your pocket, Consumer Reports has done some digging.

Consumer Reports had its shoppers check out prices at almost 200 pharmacies and the results are pretty surprising.

You'd think the price of a drug would be fairly standard, but those shoppers found prices can differ by more than $100 for the same generic drug.

For example, a month's supply of Atorvastatin, the generic version of Lipitor, ranged from just $11 to $199.

Lisa Gill, Editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, says one simple way to save is just to ask for a lower price.

"It worked for our secret shoppers. In one case we saved $31," said Gill.

Costco's pharmacy is another good way to save.

"We priced the cost of five common generic prescription drugs at nearly 200 pharmacies across the country. Costco was substantially less expensive than any other chain store," says Gill.

And you don't have to be a Costco member to fill your prescriptions there.

But also don't rule out your local independent pharmacy. Sometimes they offer bargain prices as low as Costco's or offer to meet a competitor's price, but you do have to ask.

Wherever you shop, if you have insurance, don't automatically use it.

"For some medications, if your drug insurance co-pay is more than $10, you may be better off not using your insurance and just paying the retail price," said Gill.

Walmart, Sam's Club, Walgreens CVS, Kmart, Target, and other pharmacies offer hundreds of generic prescription drugs at deep discounts.

Prices are as little as $4 per month and $10 for a three-month supply.

If you take medications over the long term, Consumer Reports says ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day.

If your insurance company allows it, you'll be able to save on multiple co-pays.

Also be aware that many drugstore chains have loyalty programs that can save you money.

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