Ways to save money on expensive prescription drugs

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Some people could be in for a real shock the next time they go to the drug store and pharmacists say it’s something they see every day -- people struggling to pay for medication.

“People are deciding between food and rent and medicine,” Steven Koontz, registered pharmacist at Thomasville Family Pharmacy, said.

The situation may have just gotten worse for some.

The Wall Street Journal reports that big name pharmaceutical companies have raised prices on dozens of branded drugs between 9 percent and 10 percent -- some as much as 20 percent.

“Some of the medications for cholesterol and diabetes especially some of the new medications, they are in the hundreds of dollars,” Mary Elizabeth Batten, director of pharmacy services with the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Division, said.

One way to alleviate the burden of rising costs is to ask your doctor or pharmacist about manufacturers coupons or less expensive drugs.

“The biggest thing is generic alternatives; a lot of drugs have cheaper generic equivalents which are the exact same thing as the brand name products,” Koontz said.

In some circumstances, the generic could cut costs by 50 percent to 100 percent of the cost.

Also, check with your county health department.

Guilford County’s Department of Public Health and Human Services offers a Medication Assistance Program (MAP).

“We help people that have trouble paying for their medications, it's typically for patients that don't have insurance or don't have Medicaid,” Batten said.

Another option, reaching out to free and charitable clinics.

Davidson Medical Ministries Clinic is a nonprofit organization that has helped fill a tremendous need in the county by assisting uninsured and underinsured people.

"We did 48,000 prescriptions last year,” Sandy Motley, executive director of Davidson Medical Ministries Clinic, said.

The clinic’s community center status makes it eligible to get medications through the federal government at a discounted rate.

That discount is then made available to people who qualify.

"They may be able to get a prescription filled for $4 or $5,” Motley said.

Davidson Medical Ministries Clinic will accept patients at its new Thomasville location at 102 Forest Park Drive beginning Jan. 19.

The Guilford County Department of Public Health and Human Services will also help people on-site for medical assistance at both its Greensboro and High Point offices.

Contact Davidson Medical Ministries Clinic at the Lexington office at (336) 243-7475.

Contact Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services at (336) 641-7777.