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Where are the different places I can go to purchase Over the Counter (OTC) and prescription medications, durable medical equipment, and other products and services associated with my treatment or plan of care?

Keeping in mind that the medications, equipment and other products associated with your treatment are often sold at very high markups, it pays to shop around.

Some options:

Ask your physician if they can provide any free samples of medications. This is especially helpful if your plan includes a brand name prescription drug for which there are no viable generic alternatives. And regardless of whether or not a generic alternative is available, free samples can often mean starting treatment immediately while buying time to research and buy generic/name brands at a discount on-line.

Best Drugs for Less brochure from Consumer Reports. An excellent overall guide on good purchasing options, with specifics on drugs for allergies, depression, diabetes, heartburn, high cholesterol, insomnia, migraines, overactive bladder, and pain.

Good Rx allows you to enter the name of the drug you need and find the lowest price. A second set of filters allows you to select a generic alternative (if your prescription allows), specify dosage and volume, and enter your zip code to get local outlets by price.

Buy in bulk; like everything else, the more you buy, the less expensive it is. Discounts are also often available for automated refills if appropriate.

Group purchasing discount cards are sometimes available from your employer, your insurance company, AAA, AARP, or other organizations.

Retail discount programs from Sam’s Club, Costco, Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and others.

Buy while traveling outside of the US, or order from international companies on the web. According to the letter of the law, this is illegal, but the price differences for brand name drugs are so substantial that Customs rarely enforces the law. Several large employers as well as state and city governments (many near the Canadian border) have openly arranged for bulk purchases from Canada. Before purchasing, however, make sure you know whether your insurance plan will reimburse for drugs purchased outside the US. And be aware that there is no recourse if you receive a fake drug or generic instead of a brand name.

Pharmacychecker. Once you’ve entered the name of your drug, it will prompt you if there are generic options. Once you’ve selected generic or brand and dosage, it will show comparative prices from different sources, including other countries.

HealthPricer provides a product search for prescription drugs and other consumer health and beauty products, and allows side by side comparisons.

Amazon carries many OTC drugs and health, wellness, fitness, and baby care products.

If you’re being prescribed an orthopedic brace of some sort, ask your doctor if you can get one at Dick’s Sporting Goods or another athletic store. They often carry braces that are as good or better than those provided by medical device manufacturers.


Remember:  We coach, support, educate, and empower.  We illuminate options you may not have known you had.  But we don't decide what's right for you in your unique circumstances; only you can do that.  And we don't provide medical, financial, or legal advice; nor do we replace the valuable counsel of those who do.