Rx Drugs: Cheaper In Bulk

Miki Fiegel is in search of a bargain for her prescription drugs, not across any border, but also not at her local chain pharmacies.

"I have to take this medicine every day, and I can't afford it," says Fiegel.

She's switching to a familiar sight on the suburban landscape: a giant discount store.

"I buy in bulk for a lot of things because it's so much cheaper," says Fiegel.

Consumers shopping for affordable prescription drugs aren't just going to Canada these days. As CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta reports, they're heading to Costco where they're finding membership club medicine is healthier for their checkbooks.

The biggest savings, customers say, are in generic drugs.

Take a typical order of Metformin, which is used to treat diabetes. It's $60 at Walgreens and $67 at CVS. But at Costco it's just $23. The blood pressure generic Lisinopril is $42 at Walgreens and $43 at CVS. At Costco it's $13.

Other warehouse stores are matching those low prices.

Walgreens defended its prices in a statement, saying "for 92 percent of our customers, the cash price is irrelevant because they're covered by prescription insurance."

CVS directed our questions to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores spokesman Kurt Proctor, who admits pharmacies mark up the prices of generics to make a profit.

"The margins on brand name drugs are very thin, very tight, and generics do present an opportunity for pharmacies to have a higher than average margin on those products," says Proctor.

But health care advocates argue those mark-ups force consumers into dangerous choices.

"If you're not filling a prescription; if you're only taking half the dosage your doctor wants; if you're cutting pills in half, then you're playing havoc with your health care," says Ron Pollack, of Families USA.

Fiegel would rather play the numbers, hoping warehouse stores can cure killer drug prices.
  • Jaime Holguin

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