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Don't cut back on food to afford your meds: 5 ways to save on drugs you need

Consumer Reports: Rising drug prices forcing some to make dangerous choices

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Americans spend more money on drugs than people in any other country. A Consumer Reports survey released today, of people who take prescription medications, reveals that high drug costs are forcing some of to cut back on groceries, delay their retirement, or even take a second job. The good news is there are five things you can do right away to help you save on the drugs you need.

Savings tip #1: Do you still need everything you are taking?

Talk to your doctor. In an earlier survey, Consumer Reports found that 70 percent of people who asked their doctor if they could cut down on their medications were able to eliminate at least one drug. So, make sure to ask your doctor whether you still need all the medicine you are taking.

Savings tip #2: Talk to your doctor about cost

If your doctor determines a drug is necessary for you to keep taking, ask your doctor about the cost. Consumer Reports says most doctors do not regularly discuss drug costs with their patients.

“Don’t be afraid to take the lead on this," said Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports. "Asking your doctor for a cheaper alternatives can save you money. And using generics can save you up to 85 percent.”

Saving tip #3: Get a 90-day vs. 30-day prescription

Every time you fill a prescription, you have to pay a co-pay. To save you money, Consumer Reports says you need to think "90-day supply" for your long-term medications. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, you can save money by getting a 90-day prescription from your doctor, which means you may only be responsible for one co-pay -- not three. 

Saving tip #4: Ask your pharmacist for lowest price

Consumer Reports says don't skip a conversation with your pharmacist. Always ask, ‘What’s the lowest possible price you can offer?" 

It does work. Tami Alpert went to buy a pair of EpiPens for her daughter’s allergies and was taken aback by the price -- close to $400. 

“I left the pharmacy having not purchased it so that I could talk about it with my husband and figure out what we were gonna do," said Alpert.  

Alpert then followed up with her pharmacist for help, and it was worth it.

“A few hours later my pharmacist called me back and said that he had actually gone and done his own research and found additional coupons and that he was able to bring the price down," she said. "I felt so relieved.” 

Saving tip #5: Call multiple area pharmacies

Consumer Reports secret shoppers called over 150 pharmacies across the country to compare prices, and found that the cost of the same prescription can vary by hundreds of dollars even in the same town. So it can really pay for you to call around, too, to find the best price. Learn more from Consumer Reports' secret shoppers on how they shopped around for lower drug prices.