Dr. Edward Jardini has written a valuable book called How to Save on Prescription Drugs, which offers consumers recommendations for reducing their drug expenditures. The Consumerist blog summarizes the tips as follows:
ELIMINATE NONESSENTIAL PRESCRIPTIONS
1. Eliminate medicines that are no longer needed
2. Eliminate medicines that no longer work
3. Eliminate medicines that have never worked
4. Eliminate medicines that were never needed
THINK OUTSIDE THE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BOTTLE
5. Treat with lifestyle changes
6. Use nondrug treatments
7. Prevent disease naturally
STEER CLEAR OF OVERPRICED REDUNDANT DRUGS
8. Don’t “Ask Your Doctor” (for Advertised Drugs)
9. Insist on generic drugs
10. Insist on cheaper medicines with the same class
11. Insist on a cheaper class from the same treatment goal
PLAY IT SMART!
12. Cut costs by splitting tablets
13. Don’t treat side effects of one drug with another
Dr. Jardini wants patients to start by scheduling “treatment reviews” with their doctors to determine what drugs they really need to take and to figure out strategies for paying less. I love the idea of a closer doctor-patient relationship in which these types of issues are discussed, but I’m not sure how realistic it is for many of us today. Here’s why:
- Many of us, bumped from one insurance plan to another and changing doctors frequently as a result, do not know a physician that we really trust and will confide in.
- Doctors today are more pressed for time than ever, dividing their workdays carefully into 30 or more 15-minute appointments. If you want a comprehensive treatment review, you’d better be able to talk fast.
- Most doctors, in my experience, have no clue what different drugs or treatments cost — and don’t want to know. When it comes to issues of cost, they’re just as likely to send you out the door and ask you to talk with the office manager as to take the time to understand your situation, empathize with it, and help.
- Just as consumers are sucked in by DTC advertising for the latest high-priced drugs, so doctors are sucked in by Big Pharma’s heavy-handed marketing to physicians. The problem is not just that we “ask our doctor” — it’s that many doctors respond to every conceivable health problem by whipping out the prescription pad.
So, while we appreciate where Dr. Jardini is coming from, we think in reality the burden is going to be on you, the consumer, to determine how and where you can save money.
Dr. Jardini’s tips, I would add, are only part of the story when it comes to saving money on prescription drugs. In fact, at eDrugSearch.com, we’re currently working on an e-book offering our own money-saving tips — 99 of them, in fact.