Consumer Reports: Save money on prescription medications

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Consumer Reports says if you want to save on prescription medication, you need to look at where you shop. (WPVI)

Drug prices are on the rise. A new poll from Consumer Reports finds that one-third of Americans who take a prescription drug saw a spike in price over the past year.

If you want to save on prescription medication, you need to look at where you shop.

Using the results of its undercover shopping test, Consumer Reports shows that some outlets charge much, much more than others.

Consumer Reports secret shoppers compared the price to fill five common generic prescription drugs at more than 200 pharmacies across the country, including Costco, Walgreens, CVS, Target, and Walmart, as well as independents and supermarket pharmacies, and a verified online pharmacy.

"Some Americans are seeing their drug prices skyrocket, but you may be able to save money if you change where you shop for your prescriptions," said Lisa Gill from Consumer Reports.

The drugs in Consumer Reports' national price analysis are commonly prescribed generics for Actos, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Plavix, and Singulair.

"Of the prescriptions that we looked at, the three biggest drugstores - CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid - were the most expensive," said Lisa.

The bill for all five drugs at Walgreens was over $600 dollars. At Rite Aid, it was almost $830 dollars. And CVS was the highest at $855 dollars!

The price at Costco was much lower at only $117 dollars. And you don't need a Costco membership to fill your prescriptions there.

Buying the drugs online was the best deal of all - only $83 dollars at

Consumer Reports recommends only shopping at "Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites" that show the VIPPS logo, like HealthWarehouse.

They also found some real bargains at independent mom-and-pop pharmacies, but you may need to ask for a better deal. Their pharmacists often have more flexibility to match or beat competitors' prices.

"Never be afraid to ask a pharmacist for a lower price no matter where you shop. Some pharmacies may charge you less if they know you're paying out of pocket," said Lisa.

Consumer Reports also found that many chain and big-box stores offer common generics at very low prices if you pay out of pocket.

Prices are as low as $4 dollars for a 30-day supply. That's likely to be less than you'd pay for your insurance co-pay.

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