Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 9, 2014

Pharmer's market

Comparison shopping applies to prescription drugs, too

TAHLEQUAH — The Latin phrase “caveat emptor” – which translates as “buyer beware” – might not be familiar with all local residents, yet most would say they compare prices when shopping for tangible items.

But they might not put prescription medications in that category.

When Ronald Bywater couldn’t get a prescription filled at the discount store he regularly visits, he was referred to a second pharmacy, also part of a large national chain.

Bywater has insurance, but he was getting the prescription filled for a family who is not covered, and he was mortified at the price difference from one store to the next.

“Since I have insurance, I make a $5 co-pay, no matter the prescription,” said Bywater. “But to get a generic refill for this drug – a 30-day refill – would have cost $13.54 at the store I have my prescriptions filled, but at the other store, I was given a price of $181.89, which is 775 percent higher. And it was the same generic drug, because I asked the pharmacist specifically.”

The vast price difference prompted Bywater to call other area pharmacies and get quotes for the same prescription. After contacting three more, he compared prices, and learned that had his original pharmacy had the drug in stock, he would have paid $13.54, or 45 cents per pill.

A second area pharmacy, an independent unaffiliated with a national chain, was asking $21.21, or 70 cents per pill. A third, also an independent pharmacy, gave a quote of $22.13, or 74 cents per pill; a fourth and final pharmacy, which has outlets exclusively in Northeast Oklahoma, quoted $36.47 or $1.21 per pill.

“The average price for the pharmacies other than [the second national chain to which I was referred] is $23.34, or 78 cents each,” said Bywater. “In this time of economic depression and with so many people unemployed, I think the citizens of this great community should know [about the differences].”

When Bywater questioned the pharmacy charging $181.89, he was told “they do not participate in price matching.”

NeoHealth opened its own pharmacy in Hulbert almost two years ago, and Dr. James Myers said they do offer price-matching for their patients.

“We’re a small pharmacy, and we try to keep mark-up low,” said Myers. “We price match with Walmart on certain drugs. We also compare our prices to our patients’ discount card prices and provide cost-effective options. After all, our motto is to provide quality, affordable care to everyone.”

Finding the right balance between discounts, service

Terry Jones, a retired pharmacist who has owned independent drug stores in Northeast Oklahoma for decades, said drug pricing – like anything else – varies from store to store, and people should be mindful of shopping for the best deal.

“It’s called free enterprise. Just because a store is known as a major discount outlet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to have the least expensive prescriptions,” said Jones. “Conversely, a smaller, independent druggist may charge a bit more for a prescription, but delivers superior patient service. I mean, you can’t call [the big box stores] in the middle of the night for an emergency. They’re not going to open their doors to help one patient.”

NeoHealth CEO Scott Rosenthal agrees with Jones.

“Big box stores may offer less-expensive items, but cannot rival smaller pharmacies like NeoHealth when it comes to patient care and service delivery,” said Rosenthal.

Some stores offer prescription club memberships, which provide lower prices on certain items. According to Jones, pharmacies cannot legally charge insurance companies more for a drug than they charge a cash-paying – and likely uninsured – customer. They can, however, offer special pricing to club members.

A quick check of the Reasor’s pharmacy section of its website reveals that while the corporation doesn’t offer a prescription club, it does have a program that provides low-cost generic prescription drugs. Some can be obtained for as little as $4 per prescription, and Reasor’s also offers free antibiotics to patients and their families – with a prescription, of course. An added benefit for those with a Reasor’s card is a discount of 5 cents per gallon of gas – up to 20 gallons – for each prescription filled, regardless of cost. (The card must be used at QuikTrip or Little Reasor’s, neither of which are available in Tahlequah.)

“We don’t have a prescription club,” said Myers of NeoHealth. “Again, we are small, but in the two years we’ve been open, we’ve experienced tremendous growth.

Walmart also offers $4 prescriptions for some medications, but does not have a prescription club advertised on its website.

Walgreens began offering a Rewards program last May. According to the Walgreens website, customers earn 500 points per prescription, or 1,500 points for 90-day prescriptions. Every 5,000 points earned can be redeemed for a $5 discount on future purchases, excluding prescription drugs, dairy, stamps, alcohol, tobacco, phone cards, lottery tickets, charitable donations, transportation passes or money orders.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

To read moreabout where Daily Press readers choose to buy their prescription medications, go to tahlequahTDP.com

tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks