Pricey Pills

You may have received the ‘prescription drugs’ email from a friend or co-worker that outlines drug price discrepancies from one pharmacy to another. I tend to ignore those type of emails as a general rule but I had occasion to test the accuracy of the viral email’s claims recently and thought I’d post my findings.

The email in question was titled ‘Costco Prescriptions’ and included a variety of prescription drugs with consumer pricing, cost of active ingredient and percentage of markup. Including the ingredient pricing and the markup is actually quite deceiving because drug companies don’t really charge for the drug itself but rather the cost of development and marketing. Big bucks in the drug world and we, the consumer, pay for it. Through the nose and other orifices.

The main point of the message is that prescription drugs purchased from Costco Wholesale are significantly cheaper than the price you pay at London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart, Save-On-Foods and others. Yeah right. The message reminded me of those goofy web sites that report gas prices at various stations in the lower mainland and the wankers that drive 20km to save $1.12. I’m not willing to drive an extra 20km (there and back) to save 3 bucks. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Recently my doctor prescribed two drugs which I had filled at Thrifty Foods. The total cost of 30 tablets of each (for a total of 60 tablets) was just under $70. Not cheap. When the prescription ran out my doctor prescribed the same medication but for 100 of each tablet. I estimated that the prescription would cost me just north of $250.00 so I decided to try Costco. The total cost of the prescription of 200 tablets was just over $120.00 and was filled in less than 10 minutes (Thrifty Foods took over 30 minutes to fill the other prescription. Don’t ask me why because it didn’t appear they were particularly busy. Perhaps an incentive to do some shopping?).

On my doctor’s advice I also purchased Wild Salmon Oil from Pharmasave. I paid $14.00 for a Jamieson ‘bonus’ bottle of 90 capsules (300 mg). I picked up a bottle of 240 (1000 mg) Webber Naturals Wild Salmon Oil capsules at Costco for slightly over $9.00. A dramatic cost difference to say the least. I’m obviously not comparing identical manufacturers but the product must be manufactured to Health Canada specifications so they’re essentially the same.

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are grossly overpriced (have you seen the price of Claritin lately?) so it’s nice to know we can buy the medications we need for a fair price without having our pockets picked. And you don’t even have to be a member of Costco to use the Pharmacy. There’s another interesting fact you wouldn’t have known if you didn’t read my blog.

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