Advice For Prescription Drug Shoppers

Consumer experts say Americans are missing good bargains when heading out to purchase prescription drugs.

Tyler resident Elizabeth Collins pays more than $400 a month for six medicines. "Drugs have become the lifeline of many older people," she says. "And I'm sure some of them are spending a great amount of their income on drugs just to keep them alive."

Elizabeth realizes the value of shopping around even though lack of transportation forces her to shop at one place. Elizabeth called three pharmacies Tuesday and asked for prices on Detrol, Clarinex and Mobic. Most of the businesses offered the drugs for a few dollars more or less than what Elizabeth was paying, but the price difference on Detrol was too overwhelming to ignore. Elizabeth now spends $87 on the drug, while another pharmacy offers Detrol for $59.

Elizabeth hopes other consumers will put pressure on pharmacies to compete.

"It would pay if everybody would start calling and just mention that they can get it (a certain drug) at another place for a different amount," she says.

And when looking for those good deals, there's a few things experts say to keep in mind. First, remember one-time prescriptions like antibiotics usually vary widely in price. Also pay attention to independent pharmacies--they often have competitive prices.

Elizabeth says she's pretty much confined to one pharmacy because she uses a bus to get there. But after conducting some research, she has different advice for others.

"I would tell them to shop (the market), if they can get in their car and go."