PORTLAND, Ore. — You could be in for some sticker shock next time you go to the pharmacy. Last month, drug makers quietly raised the price on hundreds of brand-name prescription drugs.
“I thought it was a misprint. I honestly was shocked,” said Kate Johnson of Gresham.
Johnson saw the price of her medication for an autoimmune disorder skyrocket from $30 to $80 for a three-month supply.
The price hike came with no warning, forcing Johnson to reshuffle her household budget.
“Luckily, I’m still working but many consumers who need medications daily aren’t working,” said Johnson. “To have that boost in prices is just unbelievable.”
So why the increase, and why now?
“Every July and every January we see drug manufacturers increase prices on drugs. This January we saw the most increases ever,” explained Tori Marsh of GoodRx.
In the month of January, GoodRx found drug makers increased the price of roughly 800 different prescriptions with an average price hike of more than 4%.
“Many of these are already very expensive brand only drugs that don’t have any affordable alternative,” explained Marsh.
The price increases are for a drug’s list price - the official price set by the manufacturer. In reality, almost no one pays the list price because of rebates and discounts. But research shows price changes do eventually trickle down to consumers.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce prescription drug costs:
Just like any other product like a television or computer, it pays to compare prices. In a 2018 KGW investigation, we saved over $500 on common prescription drugs by comparing prices at pharmacies in the same town.
Check out buying clubs
Places like Costco and Sam’s Club often have very competitive pricing on prescription drugs and you don’t need to be a member.
Consider online pharmacies
They often have low prices and deliver right to your mailbox.
Ask for in-store discounts and shop for online coupons
Websites like GoodRx will do the work for you. Simply type in your drug name and GoodRx will provide prices and discounts for prescription drugs. Additionally, try searching your prescription on Google along with the term "coupons" and you’ll likely find various offers and discounts from the drug manufacturer.
Talk to your doctor
It is important to ask your doctor if you need a drug in the first place. If it is necessary, ask how much it will cost. This discussion will help your doctor understand what you can afford.