Ilene Stern loves a great bargain, and clips coupons for everything from cleaning products to gift items.
"It's always nice when I'm going to the cash register and I take out my coupon and I'm paying less than the woman standing next to me," said Illene.
But Illene never thinks to look for a coupon for her medications.
"I did not know that there were coupons for prescription drugs," said Ilene.
There are. In fact, you can find coupons for all kinds of brand name prescriptions, like drugs to asthma, high blood pressure, and even sleep problems. New Web sites like OPTIMIZERx.com list all the available offers for you.
"The savings programs range from coupons where you can get a portion of your co-pay, such as $15 off your co-pay; some include a rebate program where you simply fill out a form to get reimbursement," said David Harrell of OPTIMIZERx.com.
Eyewitness News found coupons for three of the five most commonly prescribed drugs, including one for Lipitor offering up to $180 off co-pay's over a year.
Ilene was able to find one for her thyroid prescription, too.
"There was a coupon that allowed me to have 30 days for free, with an option to renew three additional times," said Illene.
The American Medical Association's Dr. Edward Langston says these coupons can be a way to cut healthcare costs.
"If it's for medication that you're taking, and that is going to be something that you take for a long period of time, then I don't see any real problem with that," said Dr. Langston. "Why not?"
The Food and Drug Administration is now planning a study to see if the coupons prevent patients from paying attention to drug risks. A coalition of dozens of consumer groups is calling on the agency to ban them altogether.
"We need to stop treating prescription drugs like shampoo and fabric softener," said Alex Sugerman-Brozan, the director of the Prescription Access Litigation Project. "These are not just consumer products, they're medical treatments."
Ilene is thrilled with the savings she found and can't wait to cash in her coupon.
"Anytime I could take advantage of a coupon, I would take advantage of it," said Illene. "Today's economy, it doesn't make sense not to."
When using prescription coupons, read the fine print. Many are not valid for mail-in orders and can only be used at brick-and-mortar pharmacies.
If you are on plans like Medicare and Medicaid, read the conditions, since often the coupons don't apply.
For more information:
Internet Drug Coupons.com
Reduce Prescription Costs